James McPake confesses he was so certain Dundee United would hand Paul McMullan a new deal, he believed Dundee had no chance of luring him to Dens.
The Dark Blues manager is a long-time admirer of the 24-year-old winger and had pinpointed him as one of his top targets.
However, after McMullan helped the Tangerines to promotion last season, McPake believed United would try to tie him down to a new deal.
When that was not forthcoming, Dundee swooped to make their move with the pacy wide man signing a pre-contract earlier this month.
McMullan was then told he was no longer part of manager Micky Mellon’s first-team group and has now moved across the road to Dens on loan until the end of the season, when his new two-year contract will kick in.
McPake is understandably pleased the deal has finally been done, especially after comments made by United sporting director Tony Asghar at the start of this week suggesting the Tangerines may have ended up offering him a new deal.
The manager told Dee TV: “I am delighted we have got Paul in early.
“I am surprised really, particularly after the comments from their sporting director yesterday in regards to how they wanted to keep him.
“But we are over the moon to get him in. He is a player we identified as soon as I got the job.
“It is credit to the recruitment team that we have got in place here as well.
“It is one we have monitored. He is a player who has hurt us a lot. It pains me to say it last season in the derbies.
“He hurt a lot of teams in this league last season. So he was one that we monitored but we didn’t think we had a chance of getting because we thought United would reward him with a new contract.
“That didn’t happen and as soon as we had a chance, we got in there and offered a pre-contract.
“Once it was agreed and signed, then it was just a case of who was going to blink first. We were willing to wait it out but we got him eventually and we are delighted to have him.
“He is a fantastic player and different to what we’ve got. He brings a different dimension to our team.”
McPake admitted the fact McMullan agreed to sign a two-year deal at Dens showed his commitment to Dundee.
The manager added: “Definitely, but again he was one of our top targets and he was one that we did keep an eye on.
“We were hoping that he wouldn’t be offered that deal down the road. Again, that goes back to my surprise over what I read yesterday.
“So I am delighted to get this one over the line as he is a player who will benefit our football club not just in the next four months of this season but for the next couple of seasons.
“He knows this league very well but he is also a player who can comfortably play in the Premiership and that’s where we want to be. He is going to be part of that journey.”
McPake is now hoping that other potential transfers will come to fruition before the window shuts.
He said: Every window we are always looking to bring in quality and I think we have done that to be fair.
“Paul is another one who adds real quality to the squad and there is another couple bubbling away. Whether we get them over the line or not that remains to be seen.
“HIstorically in my short time in management, these five days are always the busiest of your season.
“The January window is the busiest and there will be lots of phone calls, deals looking to be done, deals missed out on but we are hopeful there will certainly be more business done.”
Meanwhile, McMullan admitted putting pen to paper on his deal at Dens was something he carefully considered.
He said: “It wasn’t an easy decision but this is a great club, I know the manager, I know a few of the lads here and they are a really good playing squad.
“It is something I am really looking forward to getting involved in and hopefully adding to it as well.
“Hopefully I can get involved in the games and start firing us towards getting promoted.”