Neil McCann says Dundee are getting much more than a “guy off the telly”

© DC Thomson
Neil McCann speaks to the press at the conference announcing his appointment.

He has already come to Dundee’s rescue once as a player – now Neil McCann wants to do the same as manager of the Dark Blues.

The 42-year-old was last night appointed interim boss of the club as successor to Paul Hartley, who was sacked on Monday.

Former Rangers, Hearts and Scotland winger McCann also had two spells as a player with Dundee including three games for the side in the “Deefiant” season.

Neil McCann celebrates after scoring the winning goal for Dundee aganst Raith Rovers in 2011.© SNS
Neil McCann celebrates after scoring the winning goal for Dundee aganst Raith Rovers in 2011.

He came out of retirement to play as a trialist to help the Dens Park outfit overcome a 25-point deduction after going into administration, memorably scoring a late winner against Raith Rovers in February 2011.

The Dark Blues are currently languishing in second bottom spot of the Premiership and, while McCann deflected suggestions that he was coming back again as a “trouble-shooter”, he did insist he was fully capable of restoring the club’s fortunes in the five remaining league games this season.

He said: “I wouldn’t quite use that phrase (trouble-shooter) and coming back here the second time around it was a phone call that Barry Smith made.

“I’d been training with Derek McInnes at St Johnstone and he was looking for players at the time and said ‘Is the wee man fit?’.

Neil McCann settles back in at Dens Park.© DC Thomson
Neil McCann settles back in at Dens Park.

“I think Del laughed and said he’s probably one of the fittest here, so when I got the opportunity to come in here I was nervous, but without that wee bit of nerves and that little bit of edge I just don’t think you’re ready mentally.

“It was the same thing, coming in here. ‘Oh, he’s the guy off the telly’. Quite quickly I embedded myself in the squad.

“I couldn’t believe how the Raith game went of course, scoring on my debut. But those are things you can’t purchase in life. They are gifts given to you.

“So that was a trying time for the club. I understood what they were going through. I was a tiny part of the Deefiant season. But I was proud to play a part in it.

“This is the next chapter.”

When asked if he was just as confident now, McCann replied: “I am. I would not have taken the job otherwise.

“For the love of the club and the position they are in I would be a fool to think I should take something I am not prepared for. I am going into this with my eyes wide open.

“I have no fear of the job. I have full confidence in the players.

“They have to believe though. You can talk until you are blue in the face. But those guys have to believe they are good enough.

“They are good enough – I know that. I will keep telling them that. But until they cross the line and show people they are good enough, that’s when we find out.”

McCann did not hide away from the fact that his appointment would be seen by many as a big gamble considering the predicament Dundee are in and his lack of managerial experience, but he is convinced he has done the right thing accepting the job.

He said: “In five games’ time will it be the start of a big successful managerial career? Maybe not.

Dundee managing director John Nelms introduces new manager Neil McCann.© DC Thomson
Dundee managing director John Nelms introduces new manager Neil McCann.

“Is it going to be a failure? No. Because I have jumped into something I have fully prepared for mentally, because I know it’s something the boys are capable of getting out of. I have no lingering thoughts like, ‘Have I done the right thing?’”

McCann will honour a commitment to work for Sky this weekend covering the Scottish Cup semi-finals but after that his full focus will be on Dundee.

He added: “Sky have been so supportive in this opportunity. They were supportive when I came back here and played those three games and equally when I went to Dunfermline, to allow me to go in all week and work with Jim (McIntyre) on Saturdays.

“I am still contracted to Sky. But I have told them I am in this 100%. There are no half measures. I am in tomorrow and after the weekend that’s me until we get ourselves out of trouble.”

McCann’s first game in charge of Dundee will come a week on Saturday at Motherwell, a venue where they memorably won 5-1 the last time they played there.

He said: “They’ve gone to Fir Park already this season and come away with a handsome victory, so if they need to look for inspiration or proof that they’re capable of getting the results required they only have to dig a DVD out or rewind the footage of that and watch it.

“So it’s important that I give them all the information required on the training field, but when they take the pitch it’s like everything else, players will see things in a split second, they’ll make decisions in the blink of an eye. It’s my job to make sure they’re not clouded when that time comes.

“I am surprised the position they are in because when you look at the squad there has been investment in the team and Paul has been backed.

“I am sure Paul will be the first to say that. Paul will be disappointed with where the club are, there is no doubt about that but that would be stating the obvious.

“The players will also be disappointed, but equally you can say that about the other clubs around us.

“We aren’t going to disrespect the others by saying we are much better than them because they will be saying the same thing.

“It is up to me and the staff to come up with a plan to prove we shouldn’t be in this position.”