The Courier

ANALYSIS: Resignation rather than rage appears to be fans’ reaction to Neil McCann’s Dundee

Neil McCann.

Facts and figures provide the incontestable context of Neil McCann’s Dundee reign. But facts and figures don’t lose a manager his job – players, owners and fans, possibly even the media, do that.

So where does McCann stand in terms of the support he has got from those four quarters?

Dealing with the national media first, you get the impression that so far he has managed to avoid the full ‘job on the line’ treatment.

Given everything explained across the page, that would maybe come as a surprise, but McCann has benefitted on that front due to the bottom end of the table spotlight being elsewhere thus far.

First it was on Livingston and Kenny Miller and then it was on St Mirren and Alan Stubbs – two managers who have lost their jobs while being ahead of McCann (and in Stubbs’ case getting the better of him) in the Premiership.

That will now change, especially as Dundee play Rangers next. Like it or not, the build-up to a game against one of the Glasgow two does not provide any shadow to hide in.

When it comes to managers under threat in the top flight, McCann is now front, centre and alone. All his peers are untouchable.

As far as affecting job security is concerned, though, the written and broadcast media are a distant fourth.

What about the players?

‘Losing the dressing room’ isn’t a term you can use when describing McCann’s at Dens Park, largely because he now has a squad of his own choosing.

The critical Julen Etxabeguren interview recently didn’t help but it harks back to a previous season and there is nothing to suggest that McCann’s current players aren’t giving their all for him.

The fact that boyhood Dark Blue Craig Wighton didn’t see a long-term future at Dens is a concern, the Steven Caulker episode likewise, but the attitude and application of those they have left behind cannot be called into question.

If the Dundee players are going to get McCann the sack it will be because they can’t find the net at one end of the pitch or keep it out at the other, not because they have downed tools.

You wouldn’t quite put McCann in the ‘legend’ category of former players but you would certainly say he was hugely appreciated and respected – both for his performances as a young winger and when he answered the call in the Deefiant season.

That has undoubtedly played a part in supporter reaction to poor result after poor result not reaching the fury that Paul Hartley got before him – that and the fact that he kept them up when he took over from Hartley as caretaker.

But don’t mistake the lack of ‘McCann must go’ banners and chants for unequivocal support.

Resignation, rather than rage, would appear to be a fair description of the feeling among Dundee regulars these days. That is no ringing endorsement.

You can take an internet poll with a pinch of salt if that’s not your thing but a recent one showed only 20% voted in favour of McCann carrying on.

Also, judging attendance levels is no easy task. All manner of factors contribute to those but they are probably down by hundreds on where you would expect them to be.

Which brings us to the Dundee owners, who may or may not pay attention to what is being written in newspapers or spoken on TV and radio, but will certainly be paying attention to league tables and clicking turnstiles.

There is comfort for McCann in the fact that he has a close working relationship with managing director John Nelms and that he has been backed in the transfer market. But the same could be said for his predecessor.

Nelms (and Tim Keyes) show admirable patience and loyalty but McCann is getting dangerously close to the seven-game losing run tipping point of Hartley.

Unless there is a heavy defeat at Ibrox on Saturday, everything points to Hibs at home the week after being the must-not-lose fixture.