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Mark McGhee makes ‘Let’s not kid ourselves on’ admission as he concedes Gordon Strachan connection helped land Dundee job

Ban served: McGhee

Mark McGhee has admitted his relationship with Gordon Strachan was a factor in his appointment as Dundee manager.

McGhee has been handed the task of steering the Dark Blues to Premiership safety after the sacking of James McPake on Wednesday.

Confirmation of the ex-Motherwell and Aberdeen boss’ arrival at Dens Park came less than 24-hours after McPake’s departure.

McGhee acknowledged the sudden turn of events will be tough for his predecessor to take.

And he accepted he may not have found himself in the Dundee hot seat if not for his long-standing friendship with Dark Blues technical director – and former Dons teammate – Strachan.

New Dundee boss Mark McGhee with Gordon Strachan

He said: “Let’s put our cards on the table here, these things happen.

“I have been in James’ position as often as I have been in this one.

“I know how it works but it was fairly recent, in the last couple of days, that I had any conversation about the possibility of me coming here.

“I was made to understand that I was one of a couple, at least, that Dundee were considering.

“It’s also fair to say that when they had discussions, that Gordon was batting for me.

“But there were other people.

“In the end, I got the shout that they’d decided they were making a change after all and they wanted me to do the job.”

Mark McGhee is unveiled as Dundee’s new manager at Dens Park

Asked whether he was surprised to be back with a Premiership club, he conceded: “I think I benefited from my relationship with Gordon. Let’s not kid ourselves on.

“John appointed me. In the end, he contacted me and contacted Gordon to say: ‘Look I want to speak to Mark McGhee’.

“It only went so far in the same way that for my first job, Alex Ferguson contacted John Madejski at Reading and said ‘You should speak to Mark McGhee’.

“Whether I would have got this job or another one without a bit of a leg up, I don’t know.

“I’d like to think I would because my record speaks for itself, but there is no denying that part of it was Gordon’s influence.”

On former boss James McPake, who enjoyed a close relationship with Dee managing director John Nelms, McGhee said: “It’s definitely hard on James and everyone at the club sympathises with him. John is in agony.

Mark McGhee speaks to the press after being unveiled as Dundee’s new manager

“But they felt that they needed some sort of change and fresh impetus.

“It’s happened to me before when I didn’t think I was finished with a job, and I felt the same way.

“It’s part and parcel of the job as a manager. James is good at his job, he got the club and he will be valued in the market, and will get a job.”

McGhee will kick-off his Dark Blues tenure by serving a six-game touchline ban, outstanding from his time with Motherwell in 2017.

He was hit with the punishment after being sent to the stand as the Well crashed 7-2 to Aberdeen, just weeks before his sacking.

However, he is confident that the presence of his assistant, former Stockport County boss Simon Rust, and Dave Mackay, who is staying on at Dens, will minimise any impact.

New Dundee manager Mark McGhee (right) with assistant Simon Rusk (left) at Dens Park

“It won’t have any impact and I don’t say that lightly,” he said.

“We have Simon Rusk coming in with Dave Mackay and they are well capable of marshalling the troops from the side.

“We have communication methods, mics and phones, and that means I can communicate with the bench.

“I have to be out of the dressing room 75 minutes before the game and that’s okay, as I address the players 90 minutes before.

“At half-time I am allowed to meet Simon and Dave somewhere in the building to discuss what we have seen.


“At the end of the game it’s irrelevant anyway.

“The issue was more about perception and how people would view it.

“It definitely was a difficulty and we did speak to the SFA to see if there was some way around it.

“But it’s in the disciplinary rules and constitution and there wasn’t a way to do it, so the club have accepted that.”

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