On paper, it might look like a mission impossible but Dundee boss Jim McIntyre believes tonight’s game against Rangers at Ibrox is a challenge to be embraced not feared.
Steven Gerrard’s side are certainly not giving up on the Premiership title race despite being eight points behind Celtic and are currently in a rich vein of form having won their last two games, scoring 10 goals without reply.
In contrast, the Dark Blues suffered a disappointing 4-2 defeat against Hibs on Friday night at Dens and remain third bottom of the table.
However, McIntyre is adamant that if his players can travel west with full self-belief, they can pull off a shock result this evening.
The manager said: “You have to believe in what you do, just concentrate on the game and don’t worry about the crowd.
“For me, these are the places you want to go to. That’s why you are in football – you want to go and embrace playing at Ibrox, Parkhead, the big stadiums.
“So you have to go there and have a real belief in your ability for a start.
“If you go there with self-doubt then it can be a very long evening.”
However, McIntyre acknowledged that if Dundee are to have a chance against Rangers, then they have to cut out the sort of defensive mistakes that cost them dear in the Hibs game.
He added: “Yes, 100%. I think we defended like individuals rather than a group.
“We made bad individual errors that bit us hard because Hibs have good players.
“Most forward players in this league will punish you if you give them those types of opportunities.
“That was the frustrating part of Friday night because we have been better than that recently.”
McIntyre watched Rangers sweep aside Hamilton 5-0 on Sunday and he believes the Glasgow giants will take the title race right down to the wire this season.
He said: “I think you can clearly see the last couple of games they are scoring goals freely.
“Big performances like the Hamilton one add to the confidence so yes, I am fully expecting them to be pushing all the way.”
Meanwhile, Dundee’s Ryan McGowan admitted he was also impressed by Rangers’ display against Accies but he insists if Gerrard’s men let their performance levels dip tonight, the Dark Blues have to be ready to take advantage.
The 29-year-old defender said: “It is going to be a difficult game. I watched the Hamilton match and they played well and are starting to get into a bit of a groove.
“We are under no illusions how difficult it will be but we have our own battles to do and we just need to make sure we are as compact and as defensively sound as we can be.
“If they have an off night then football can be a crazy old game and hopefully we can take something.”
However, McGowan reiterated his manager’s message that the team simply cannot afford to be as defensively slack as they were against Hibs.
McGowan added: “If you look at the scoreline, it probably doesn’t reflect the game as much, which is a funny thing to say when you are 4-1 down after 60-odd minutes.
“Individual mistakes and poor goals really cost us.
“We need to eradicate that out of our game very quickly if we want to stay in this league.
“On the positive side, we scored twice and created a lot of chances.
“We played well in spells but key moments went against us.
“We need to cut out the silly mistakes and become more solid defensively but that will come as well because a lot of the players haven’t played together that much as it has been a relatively-new side built over the last couple of months.
“The more we train and play together the tighter we should get us a unit and hopefully performances will improve.”
McGowan joined Dundee on loan from English outfit Bradford City in January until the end of the season.
His contract with the Bantams – who parted company with manager David Hopkin on Monday – ends this summer and the former Hearts and Dundee United centre-half admits he is unsure what the future holds for him.
One thing he is certain of though is that he wants to do all he can to keep Dundee in the top flight.
McGowan added: “I am up at the end of the season. It is up in the air if I am being honest.
“I am not too sure what is going to happen. I know I am on loan for the season so ideally it would be to keep Dundee in the Premiership and then to assess my options in the summer.
“I have enjoyed my time since I have been here and my focus is on keeping them up.”