Dundee’s dressing room has been transformed under manager Jim McIntyre, according to Calvin Miller.
The on-loan Celtic man has been struck by the improvement in fitness, structure of the side and team spirit since McIntyre replaced Neil McCann as Dens gaffer on October 17.
After a poor start, results have finally started going their way under the new boss, too, with the Dark Blues heading to Kilmarnock today with a four-match unbeaten run supplying the wind in their sails.
McIntyre warned this week that just because they moved off the bottom of the Premiership thanks to their draw with Rangers last Sunday that doesn’t mean it is a case of job done.
Miller knows and appreciates that there is a huge amount of graft ahead but he is happy to be working in a much healthier environment now than was the case just a few months ago.
“It’s a positive place now,” said Miller, who is a candidate to move to left-back to cover for the suspended Nathan Ralph at Rugby Park.
“Everyone is a lot more confident.
“The team is more structured than it was and we are picking up results now so the mood about the place is good.
“It’s a big difference compared to when I first came in.
“Training is a lot harder so we’re much fitter and tactically everyone knows what they’ve got to do.
“The manager has made sure everyone knows what they have to be doing when we don’t have the ball so that has made a big impact.
“Before, we were not scoring goals but we have started to create chances and find the net.
“The main focus has to be to keep doing that.
“I think the St Mirren game was the real turning point because we played well that day and you could see the manager’s ideas were coming through.
“There was a real energy within the group that day and we have just taken it on from there.
“Since then we have drawn with Hibs, beaten Hamilton and got a point against Rangers.
“As a group, the team are a lot tighter – the atmosphere is good.
“The place was down in spirits when I came here because of the results but that has changed,” added the 20-year-old.
“In the past there wasn’t much positive energy.
“I don’t think we went into games thinking we’d win them.
“We were not creating much and were feeling quite hard done by but now we are defending solidly as a team.
“Everyone is playing for each other, whereas a couple of months ago I felt we maybe were not working for our teammates the way you should be.”
Miller revealed that there was an unhealthy hush enveloping Dens when he first arrived from the Hoops at the end of August.
The sound of silence, though, has been replaced by laughter.
“I was just nervous coming into the dressing-room because this is my first loan and I expected it to be quite loud and lively but it wasn’t,” he added.
“It was quite calm and quiet at first.
“Now there is a real energy within the group.
“The lads are all interacting with each other and having a laugh.
“That has been a big part of it. Things are much more positive now.
“We are all mates, everyone is in it together and the lads are tight off the park now.
“I am in a car with Paul McGowan, Martin Woods and Darren O’Dea, so it’s not a quiet car.
“It has been small things like a few of the lads staying up and going out for food together.
“The boys have been going to Nandos for dinner and that has helped build good relationships.”
Should Miller be asked to drop deeper by McIntyre this afternoon to compensate for the enforced absence of Ralph, whose appeal against the red card was unsuccessful, then he will be happy to oblige.
He said: “The manager might make changes because of Nathan being banned so I will play wherever the manager wants me.
“I like attacking but I don’t mind going back there.
“I will still try to get forward anyway.”
The Dark Blues felt hard done by when they lost 2-1 to Killie at Dens back in October, with Jordan Jones “winning” a penalty for the Ayrshire side when there appeared to be no contact.
They wouldn’t mind gaining some kind of revenge today, with Miller saying: “A decision went against us and we lost the game.
“They are a good side but we believe we can go there and pick up points.”