Dundee have piled pressure on themselves by losing 3-0 at home to Ayr United in the Betfred Cup. Courier Sport highlights five areas of concern.
Manager Neil McCann’s overall record.
It is not being harsh on the Dark Blues boss to say his report card should read: ‘Could do better.’
His record can be broken down as follows: 2016/17 – won two, drawn one, lost two; 17/18 – won 16, drawn eight, lost 23; 18/19 – won three, drawn nil, lost four.
That makes a total of 21 victories, nine draws and 29 defeats in 59 games in charge.
The home record.
Anyone who is wondering why only 2,700 Dundee supporters turned up for what looked, on paper, to be a winnable last-16 cup-tie against lower league opponents should consider what the fans have had to watch at Dens on occasion.
McCann’s record at their own stadium reads: won nine, drawn six and lost 16.
Included in those statistics are a 4-1 thumping from Ross County, the 4-0 loss to St Johnstone, the 1-0 Betfred Cup defeat to Dunfermline and, probably worst of all, that disaster against Ayr.
Selections that baffle fans.
More than a few supporters in the main stand on Saturday made it clear they disagreed with McCann’s team selection and that was before the game kicked off. Only they did not put it as politely as that.
They seemed to be baffled by the decision to name supposed prize assets Glen Kamara and Steven Caulker on the bench.
Cammy Kerr was also listed a sub and he was joined by new Finnish striker Benjamin Kallman, who only signed the previous day. Paul McGowan wasn’t even in the squad (the word was he was injured), while the less said about Sofien Moussa the better.
It is reasonable for fans to ask, if they are all fit, why are Kamara, Caulker and Kerr not starting? Also, Kallman, who had been playing regularly in the Finnish league, was considered match-fit enough to go on at half-time for Craig Wighton.
Style of play.
Surely a young Scots manager should be credited with trying to play a passing game but maybe McCann should reconsider the play-it-out-from-the-back-at all-costs strategy.
It cost them the match at St Mirren and hasn’t reaped rewards against either Aberdeen or the Honest Men.
Surely you need to mix it up and think on your feet if plan A isn’t working.
Let’s remember that Ayr’s opener came from a punt up the park by their goalie.
Perhaps even more notably, however, even the tiki-taka guru Pep Guardiola isn’t immune to route one, as evinced by Sergio Aguero’s first goal for Manchester City against Huddersfield on Sunday.
The next game.
A trip to McDiarmid Park is usually a prospect Dundee fans relish because of the local rivalry element and the good record they have against the Perth men.
However, the performance against Ayr means there will be some trepidation among the travelling supporters as they head along the A90 on Saturday.
Saints saw off the challenge of a Championship side, Queen of the South, in the cup at the weekend and deserved their league draw at home to Hibs.
That is enough for McCann to be dealing with but you also have to consider the spice added by last season’s touchline shenanigans between him and St Johnstone keeper Zander Clark. Also, he and Perth boss Tommy Wright will not exactly be sending each other Christmas cards.
It all adds to the pressure on the Dark Blues.