The Premiership table is starting to show that Dundee’s escape mission is gaining momentum, with the Dark Blues now out of the bottom two for the first time since August.
There are plenty of statistical reasons to give further encouragement. Courier Sport picks out five of them.
1 – 2019 form table
Dundee are joint fourth in the 2019 Premiership table, with their tally of eight points only bettered by Celtic (18), Motherwell (15) and Rangers (10). Aberdeen also have eight to their name. Their only defeat was against the 100% Steelmen –and it was an undeserved one. In this calendar year so far, Dundee have gained seven points on St Mirren and three on their other relegation rivals Hamilton Accies.
2 – A striker who can’t stop scoring
It’s not just the team as a whole that can be satisfied with their 2019 form. Striker Andrew Nelson is joint second in the goalscoring stakes. The former Sunderland man has found the net four times in four starts. He has been matched by Motherwell’s Jake Hastie, with only Sam Cosgrove ahead of him. However, one of the Aberdeen target man’s goals was from the penalty spot. To be in front of the likes of Alfredo Morelos, Jermain Defoe, Ryan Christie, Oliver Burke and Steven Naismith is a mark of the impact Nelson has made at Dens Park.
3 – Jim McIntyre is ahead of schedule
From the moment Jim McIntyre took over from Neil McCann comparisons have been made between the situation he inherited when he was appointed Ross County boss and the one at Dens Park. Both were rooted to the bottom of the table and both required extensive squad surgery in the January transfer window. McIntyre, of course, helped steer County to safety without the need of a play-off. He is ahead of schedule at Dundee if you want to continue the comparison as it was only on February 14 that the Staggies got their first win since early November. They were a long way from third bottom at this point of the season.
4 – Dundee’s record against bottom six sides
The post-split phase of the season is only seven games away. Before then five of those seven matches for Dundee are against current top six sides. Even if they struggle to pick up points in those matches, there is cause for optimism that the clashes with the bottom five will produce the points they need to stay up. Against the teams below the split line, the Dark Blues have a point a game record – 13. They have won three, drawn three and lost six. These head-to-heads have brought all but five of their 18 points so far.
5 – No sign of a revival below them
The form of their two basement rivals, St Mirren and Hamilton, should give heart to even the most pessimistic of Dundee fans. As impressive as the point for Saints in Aberdeen was, there is precious little evidence that suggests they will back it up. Only once this season have they picked up points in two league games in a row – back at the start of November when their draw at Dens was followed by victory against an injury-ravaged Hearts. The same is true for Accies, who also drew with Dundee earlier this month then won the match after. With Rangers, Aberdeen, Motherwell, Hearts and Kilmarnock their next five fixtures, you wouldn’t expect much spring to be left in that new manager bounce.