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Talking Football: Dundee have to stop the rot against Hamilton

A dejected Paul Hartley at Tynecastle.
A dejected Paul Hartley at Tynecastle.

It really is crunch time for Dundee after their sixth successive defeat. In this week’s Talking Football, Ian Roache and Eric Nicolson discuss where it has all gone wrong and look ahead to the six-pointer against Hamilton Accies.

Q: Just when Dundee looked well positioned to claim a top-six place, their form has fallen off a cliff. In fewer than 1,000 words, what on earth has happened?

IR: The harsh truth is that Dundee have lost more games – 18 – than any other team in the Premiership. This latest losing streak started with a home loss to Partick Thistle at the start of March. Since then Dundee have acquitted themselves well at times but also been horrendous. For example, they battled away against Celtic but then capitulated against Aberdeen. What they should be really worried about is the hard-luck stories beginning to creep into the narrative, such as the late penalty at Ross County and Craig Wighton’s miss against Hearts. When that happens, you are usually up against it.

EN: You can’t take one broad brush to a six-game losing streak because there have been varying degrees of competence in them, ranging from the totally inept performance against Aberdeen to as, Ian put it, a couple of hard-luck stories. That being said, no side should have as severe a split-personality as this Dundee one, and that speaks to a mental weakness. The glass half-full view is that the form curve of Dundee would suggest there is probably another sharp improvement left in them.

Q: Whatever happens in the run-in, there will be serious questions asked at the end of the season but, for the moment, how fearful are you that they are heading into the play-offs (or worse)?

IR: A gambling man would probably tip Dundee to finish second-bottom and Inverness Caley Thistle last and I bet there are some Dark Blues fans who would accept that now and hope for the best against the Championship side. If pushed, I still think they will get out of trouble.

EN: I still think they’ll be OK. Mind you, I thought they were heading for the top-six after watching them at Motherwell. The sooner Paul Hartley knows he will be in the Premiership next season, the sooner he can start the rebuild.

Q: Hamilton aren’t exactly racing up the table but their form is considerably better than Dundee’s going into Saturday’s game between the sides, isn’t it?

IR: Accies may still be behind the Dens men in the table but their April record reads win, draw, draw, while we all know Dundee haven’t won a game since February 25. So Hamilton have the momentum going into this one without a doubt.

EN: Teams that have been resigned to a relegation battle for months tend to be better equipped for one when it comes down to the defining weeks of the season. Whereas teams like Dundee who free-fall into one can often get paralysed. Accies are scrapping for every point. Dundee need to remind themselves how they played at Hamilton (when they were on a six-game losing run, ironically). It wasn’t pretty that afternoon but it got the job done.


08/04/17 LADBROKES PREMIERSHIP HEARTS v DUNDEE (1-0) TYNECASTLE - EDINBURGH Dundee's Cammy Kerr at full time
Dundee’s Cammy Kerr at full-time (SNS).

Q: The big question, will Dundee beat Accies?

IR: It’s looking dire after six straight losses but nagging away at the back of my mind is Paul Hartley’s knack of pulling a win out of the hat when he needs one most. It happened down at Hamilton earlier in the season and I think it might happen again on Saturday.

EN: I’ll echo that. I know it’s not particularly scientific, but Paul Hartley tends to get a result when he really needs one. Plus, for the superstitious among Dundee fans, the fact that I’m covering the game should fill you with confidence. They always – well, nearly always – win when I’m reporting on them!


St Johnstone’s Graham Cummins scores their third goal (SNS).


Q: This time last week St Johnstone were in crisis management mode. All’s well again now, though, isn’t it?

IR: Given all the Swanson-Foster shenanigans at Saints in the lead-up to the Hearts and ICT matches they were great victories for them. There will have been a few raised eyebrows and disappointed sighs when the scoreline came through from Pittodrie on Sunday but I’m sure they will keep the pressure on Rangers until the end of the season.

EN: It turns out Saints are even very good at crisis management. Tommy Wright took control of the situation from the moment he spoke to the media at Hamilton and the club handled the episode perfectly from then on. Some would have feared the season would unravel but it’s been the exact opposite. Saints look more secure in fourth than they ever have. And, I think they’ll take at least a point against Aberdeen on Saturday.