JOHN Brown has admitted he was “very surprised” to receive a call last week asking whether he would be interested in taking over at Dundee until the end of the season.
The new interim manager faced reporters yesterday at Dens Park after a weekend when disenchantment at the identity of Barry Smith’s replacement threatened to tear the fans’-owned club apart.
The manner of the appointment has also left fans asking questions of the board and chief executive Scot Gardiner, who sat next to Brown yesterday and
described the former Rangers midfielder’s arrival as the “correct and prudent appointment”. He is, Gardiner insisted,
Dundee’s “Mr Right Now”.
The club are currently sitting 15 points adrift from 11th place at the foot of the Scottish Premier League, although they do have the opportunity to reach the semi-finals of the Scottish Cup this weekend, when Dundee United are the visitors to Dens Park.
Brown, who has not
managed since leaving Clyde in 2009, recalled receiving the call from Gardiner last Wednesday evening, the day after Smith was sacked. “I was very surprised,” said Brown, who played for Dundee from 1984 to 1988. “It is a great opportunity. I go back a long time with Scot [Gardiner]. We have been good friends for a number of years.”
Brown last worked in football at Rangers, after manager Ally McCoist asked him back to the club to help him with scouting work.
Brown walked away again in protest at new owner Charles Green’s involvement at Ibrox. Now he is hoping he can convince those in charge at Dundee to hire him on a permanent basis.
“When Scot phoned me on Wednesday and offered it he did say it is as interim until the end of the season, because they are also taking applications for long-term manager,” he said.
“When you are involved in football you never want to be out of it,” he added. “I scouted [for Rangers] until last summer after Ally [McCoist] asked me in there, but I walked out on the job because I didn’t agree with everything.
“That’s my choice. I was out of it for a year and got a phone call on Wednesday night from Scot, saying would I help Dundee out and that’s what I’m here to do. It’s short-term but hopefully I can get a reaction that the board of directors will see. “That would allow me to put my hat in the ring along with a number of other worthy candidates.”
Referring to Smith’s sacking, Gardiner said that before last Wednesday night Brown had been “blissfully unaware” of the events at Dens Park, “other than what he had seen on TV”. He recalled a club function a year ago, shortly after his own arrival as CEO, when Brown had been given a standing ovation as main speaker.
Gardiner admitted that he had been taken aback by the venomous response that had greeted the appointment. He also said he regretted the decision made by directors on the club’s five-man board to proceed with a questions-and-answers session at the club on Saturday, just as news was emerging of Brown’s appointment.
Passions were running high and comments were made from both sides of the top table that did not reflect well on the club.
“John is being caught in the crossfire,” added Gardiner. “I have apologised to him for that. I said sorry to him on Saturday. I don’t think there has been a total breakdown [in relations between club and fans].
“Saturday wasn’t representative of the whole support. I wish it had been done in a more civil manner, that’s for sure, because I don’t think the directors deserved to be spoken to like that. It was difficult for them to get that level of abuse.”
Only one director chose to sit in the directors’ box at Celtic Park as Dundee went down 5-0 to the hosts on Sunday, However, Gardiner denied that there had been any resignations over Brown’s appointment, although Steve Martin, a director, has stepped down from the Dark Blues Business Trust, which was launched by former Dundee owner Peter Marr. Marr was among those who attended Saturday’s
Q&A session at Dens Park, and he had words to say about the sacking of Smith. Marr, who himself dispensed with the services of manager John McCormack while the team were sitting top of the First Division in 1998, complained that no-one “looked into Smith’s eyes” when the manager was ousted.
Meanwhile, the first man to rise to the position of chairman of Dundee following the supporters’ buy-out yesterday condemned the in-fighting that has developed.
“The club is more broken now that it was during administration,” said Stuart Murphy, who resigned as chairman in November last year. “It’s now fans-owned and the fans are more detached than ever – that shouldn’t be.”