Comment: Dundee will be hoping new boss Neil McCann enjoys managerial beginner’s luck

© DC Thomson
John Nelms, left, introduces Neil McCann to the media.

When speaking with Dundee managing director John Nelms, he certainly does not strike you as someone who would be a reckless gambler.

However, on Monday he admitted that there was a “huge element of risk” attached to the decision to sack boss Paul Hartley with only five games of the season remaining.

Then just 24 hours later, the American threw the dice again hoping for another double six when the club revealed who would be the former Celtic and Scotland midfielder’s replacement.

No-one – and I mean no-one – in Scottish football apart from Nelms and the Dundee board knew that the man they would turn to in their hour of need was Neil McCann.

The perceived wisdom was that Dundee would opt for an experienced campaigner to hopefully steer the team away from the relegation play-off spot.

VIDEO: New boss Neil McCann “massively confident” Dundee can beat the drop

Instead, they opted for the polar opposite, for a man who is a complete managerial novice.

McCann may have completed his UEFA Pro Licence and coached before but in recent years, he has mainly worked as a pundit on Sky Sports.

When the 42-year-old was unveiled at Dens Park on Tuesday night, Nelms was content to remain in the background, avoiding any questions as to why he had made what is a left-field appointment and instead let McCann face the media.

As to be expected of someone who has made his recent living sitting in a TV studio offering his opinions, he gave an assured performance and certainly talked the talk.

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

I managed to catch a quick word alone with him later and he came across as a genuine, enthusiastic football man, who just wanted to do well for Dundee.

Certainly, having started his career as a fans’ favourite at Dens and then coming to the club’s aid again in 2011 during the Deefiant season, he will undoubtedly start his managerial career with the goodwill and backing of the fans.

They are at the end of their tether at the moment with the Dark Blues having lost their last seven games in a row however the most important people McCann needs to win round are the ones in the Dens Park dressing-room.

The new manager admitted himself that one of his first jobs is to restore some self-belief in a squad whose confidence is rock bottom at the moment.

How he does that, only he will know but what is certain is that he at least has a bit of breathing space to work with his new charges before the first crunch post-split fixture against Motherwell at Fir Park a week on Saturday.

McCann will need every second of that time to quickly put the brakes on what is starting to look like an inexorable slide towards relegation.

Certainly, Dundee will be hoping he makes a better fist of his first step into management than another Sky pundit Gary Neville, who had an ill-fated spell in charge of Spanish side Valencia before quickly returning to the TV studio.

Neil McCann says his “ambition, drive and hunger” will lead Dundee to safety

McCann has little margin for error with so few games of the season remaining and the next few weeks will be the steepest of learning curves.

However, everyone of a Dark Blue persuasion will be hoping that Nelms’ big gamble pays off in spades with the affable McCann enjoying more than his fair share of beginner’s luck.