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John Nelms says nobody was offered Dundee job before Gary Bowyer as Dens chief stresses importance of experience

New Dundee manager Gary Bowyer.
New Dundee manager Gary Bowyer.

Dundee’s protracted search for a new manager saw a number of names emerge as serious candidates for the role.

Some were experienced, in the shape of Jack Ross, others were nearer the rookie stage, like Shaun Maloney.

Previous managers at Dens tended towards the greener end of that scale with James McPake and Neil McCann in their first jobs and Paul Hartley in a first full-time gig as manager.

Jim McIntyre and Mark McGhee had much more experience but were short-term and, ultimately, unsuccessful choices.

‘Reality football’

Now, though, Dundee managing director John Nelms and his technical director Gordon Strachan feel they’ve found the perfect mix in new boss Gary Bowyer.

New Dundee manager Gary Bowyer and assistant Billy Barr.

The 50-year-old has plenty of knowhow picked up over 10 years as a manager in the lower leagues down south.

“Experience is very important,” Nelms said.

“We have gone back and forth over the years, we have tried to develop young managers and taken chances on inexperienced managers.

“But they absolutely knew the game and we thought they would do a good job.

“In this case, we wanted an experienced manager who could go into the matches having been there and done that.

“So he’s not learning and making mistakes on the job and can focus on working with the players.

“We want to create a culture within Dundee that is a winning culture.

“We want to play reality football to win us games and get promoted.”

Development

Crucially, though, his time spent as a youth coach at both Blackburn Rovers and Derby County spoke of an ability to develop young footballers.

And development is the cornerstone Dundee chiefs are hoping to lay towards their future.

“Gordon and I started to put together a programme to modify how we do things at the club a few months ago,” Nelms added.

Dundee’s squad boasts promising young players like (from left) Zak Rudden, Max Anderson, Josh Mulligan and Luke McCowan alongside the likes of Cammy Kerr (second from right).

“Gary ticked all the boxes of what we want going forward, we want someone with experience, we want somebody to focus on, not just winning, but development.

“If you look at Gary’s stats, 66% of the time he collects points but while he is doing that he is developing good young footballers.

“At Dundee, we are now in a position where we are bringing through a lot more talent through our academy.

“We need to keep developing them.

“That’s something Gary has done over his career.”

‘Get promoted’

Though developing players is a big part of the job for Bowyer going forward, it is clear promotion from the Championship at the first time of asking is this season’s target.

And Nelms says there are measures being put in place, plans to change the stature of the playing squad, to help them achieve that aim.

“Winning is the mentality we have to instil,” the American added.

Gordon Strachan alongside Dundee chief John Nelms
Gordon Strachan and Dundee chief John Nelms have found their new manager in Gary Bowyer.

“One thing we were guilty of last year – we were not the fittest team, we were not the strongest team, we lost our personal battles and we will learn from that.

“That is not going to happen any more.

“We have had these conversations to make sure we have all the right processes in place to a) get promoted and b) properly prepare for the Premiership when we do get promoted.”

Jack Ross or Shaun Maloney?

During the lengthy search for Mark McGhee’s successor – one that took over three weeks – Jack Ross and Shaun Maloney were named as the final two candidates in the early stages.

Ross backed out before talks with Maloney fell through with both sides having reservations over the deal.

Asked about those two, Nelms insists no one was offered the job before the call was made to Bowyer.

“We had a lot of good candidates that came through with a lot of good attributes but we never talked about contracts, we never talked about money,” Nelms said.

“We see this as a long-term move and that’s why it has taken as long as it has.

“The boxes were very specific boxes to tick and Gary fits that mould.

“It took a while to get there and we have had some really good candidates who we have spoken to.

“Gary stood out.”

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