It’s been just under three weeks since I last plucked up the courage to fill you in on an underwhelming season so far for Dundee and despite the lengthy absence, I’m back but I’m afraid nothing has really changed.
It all started out, well kind of, positive for Dundee.
We bounced back from our exit in the Tunnocks Cup to Elgin with a 2-1 victory over Alloa at Dens.
If Dundee had their shooting boots on, we could have easily have won this by four or five goals which was encouraging. On the other hand, Alloa could have scored the same as us and will no doubt have gone away from this match gutted that they never got a point after seeing a penalty saved and failing to connect with two golden chances right at the end.
This victory should have been a massive boost for us regardless of our slack performance at the back but in true Dundee nature, it was anything but.
A tough visit to Morton was up next who had won their previous five matches at home and who unfortunately made it six.
We started off brightly. We create a host of chances and should have been ahead quite comfortably but our killer instinct upfront to put the ball into the net or even hit the target would come back to boot us straight up the arse.
On the stroke of half time, we gave away a needless free-kick which resulted in the only goal of the match for Morton. It was sickening but hardly surprising considering our total lack of ability to defend set pieces.
The second half was not eventful and this team dropped yet more points.
And so it was on to Fridays match under the lights in Dumfries against Queen of the South.
Despite losing an early goal, we levelled the score quickly and were unlucky not to go into the break with the lead. Much like the Morton game, the second half was a bit of a damper compared to a fairly entertaining first 45 and despite a Graham Dorrans free-kick, it really felt like it was Queens who were the most likely to score.
With the match ending 1-1, it continued a barren run of four away matches without a victory and with Saturday’s results not being entirely favourable to us, we fell further behind the clubs at the top of the table. One thing we didn’t count on was actually moving up to 4th and into a play-off position but at this moment, I don’t really think it’s something that too many supporters will be celebrating.
Many fans have not been slow to put the boot in to our performances which are entirely justified in my opinion. Others have also been quick to show a level head with regards to this being an entirely new team along with a rookie manager at the helm and without sounding like I’m sitting on the fence, they are also justified in their opinions.
So what exactly is wrong right now?
Easy. Our defence can’t defend and our attackers can’t score.
As a thirty-something, semi-overweight male who’s football career peaked and ended with Dundee United Social U18’s, I hope that I’m more than qualified to critique professional footballers, so here we go!
We allow opposition players too much time on the ball. We let them run at us, putting the team under extreme pressure. We are basically welcoming them into our half.
Where’s the urgency of getting on the backs of the attackers bags, giving them no room at all? Sometimes it feels like we should just put out a welcome mat in our half because it looks so easy for them at times.
As you can tell, our attackers have not fared that much better but the fault doesn’t fall entirely at their feet, even though you wish the ball did!
They constantly seem to have their backs to our rivals goal and fail to find any space to run at the defenders. On the rare occasion Hemmings, Nelson or Johnson do have the ball at their feet and running at goal, they seem more confident but these occasions are few and far between. Most of the other time, they are having to deal with fruitless punts up the field or trying to hold the ball up while they await on some support.
This then brings me onto the rest of the team. Our wingers seem to struggle to get past defenders down the byline and end up having to pass the ball back, giving our opponents plenty of time to regroup. Most weeks we see other managers using pacey, direct players who cut us open but we seem to struggle with that ability in our team.
A bulk of our play comes down the middle but it is a slow build up with no penetration. Graham Dorrans performance on Friday has me feeling better about this but he is far from match fit and it could be a while before he’s back at his peak. This still doesn’t deter from the fact that we need more from our wide players to create more chances. That’s the type of play that Hemmings and Nelson will thrive on but it has to be fast and direct. Most of the time when we do find space down the flank, we have pissed about with it that much in the middle that the penalty box is clustered with players.
Of course, there are players out there who have impressed me. Marshall, McGhee, Robertson, Dorrans (despite just one full appearance) and, this one some or maybe many won’t agree with, Hamilton in goal. At one point this season, every player has shown to me that they have the ability in their arsenal that we are missing but there is no consistency with a good few of them.
We all know McPake is a new manager who has yet to cut his teeth at this, or any senior management level and even if you agree or disagree on his appointment, he’s going to be given time by the board and we can only live and hope that it eventually clicks sooner than later. He will make good and bad decisions along the way, it’s all part and parcel of learning the trade.
We need to however get the basics right first and being unable to do so has been borderline criminal.
Am I expecting too much after another summer of rebuilding after a disastrous relegation from the Premiership last season? I didn’t think we would be challenging for the title if I’m honest but I did expect better performances.
I’ve never expected this team to be winning each game convincingly but with each passing performance, the only thing I’m convinced with is we will have to fight tooth and nail to even finish in the play-offs at the end of the season if this trend continues.
I think that’s enough moaning for this week.
MON THE DEE!