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James McPake breaks silence on Dundee sacking and reveals what he will do differently in next job

James McPake during his time as Dundee manager.
James McPake during his time as Dundee manager.

James McPake admits he was stunned and devastated by his Dundee sacking.

Dark Blues fans were also shocked last month when McPake was replaced in the Dens Park hot seat by Mark McGhee after three years in charge.

The former Hibs, Livingston and Dee defender left the club second bottom of the Premiership having lost 14 of their 25 games since promotion from the Championship.

But his exit came as the Dens men enjoyed a run of just one defeat in their previous six outings.

‘I didn’t have any inkling’

They are currently bottom of the table, one point behind nearest strugglers St Johnstone, with McGhee winless in his five games in charge.

McPake told The Sunday Mail: “I was devastated. Two of my kids were born while I was at Dundee.

“Dave Mackay had to take the team for a game against Peterhead [in 2019] because I was in hospital with Dawn who had Grace that day.

“So I was gutted that it happened because the club was a massive part of my life.

Dundee managing director John Nelms
Dundee managing director John Nelms.

“I didn’t have any inkling. That day it was just a sit-down with John Nelms who said they were going in a different direction.

“We shook hands and I walked out. I was genuinely shocked.

“I asked them not to announce it before I’d spoken to my wife and my mum.

“I got my desk cleared and jumped in the car to go and see Dawn and the kids.”

McPake, 37, also opened up on the personal sacrifices he made in a bid to be successful in the City of Discovery.

Mark McGhee replaced James McPake as Dundee manager.

He said: “The pressure had always been there. When you get beat, you don’t sleep.

“The job was 24/7. I feel a wee bit guilty about that now, for the three kids and Dawn’s sake.

“I was up in Dundee four nights a week and she was having to deal with everything at home single-handedly.

“What can’t be said about myself and the staff is that we didn’t work hard enough.”

Return to management?

He added: “If I do get back in I’ll find a better balance. It wasn’t right at Dundee.

“People say you can never work too much but I did. I was too intense and couldn’t switch off.

“Maybe that’s just being young and in my first job. But I have a life outside of football as well.

“So there are a lot of things I will do differently.”

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