Dundee goalkeeper Rab Douglas admits the off-field dramas that have surrounded the club over the past week have been an unwelcome distraction ahead of tomorrow’s derby clash.
The Dens Park outfit face city rivals Dundee United with a place in the William Hill Scottish Cup semi-finals at stake. But the build-up to the game has been dominated by the saga surrounding new interim manager John Brown’s appointment.
The former Rangers defender was brought in to replace sacked predecessor Barry Smith amid supporter protests and claims of board unrest. And Douglas claims the off-field rumbles have made it harder to focus on the task of beating United at the third time of asking this season.
The former Scotland goalkeeper, who played his 300th game for the Dark Blues on Wednesday as team-mate Mark Stewart netted a last-minute equaliser in their 2-2 draw with St Johnstone, said: “It’s been a hard week. It’s been a strange week as well.
“It’s never easy concentrating on the football with all the other stuff going on around the club. That’s probably just Dundee for you though. It’s still a great place to play and we need to get on with it.
“The best release for any footballer is to go and play games in quick succession. That’s the way it is going, so that is brilliant. All we can do is go out and try our hardest. We were not far away against St Johnstone on Wednesday. The way we ended the match gives us confidence and now we can go into the derby looking forward to it.”
But Douglas is not sure whether Brown’s arrival will have significantly altered their chances. He said: “Does the new manager coming in give us a better chance this weekend? That’s the board’s decision, not the players’. Obviously we are culpable for the results to a certain degree but as players we just have to get on with it.”
Douglas did admit, however, that Dundee have not been up to scratch in their two previous Clydesdale Bank Premier League meetings with United this term. They lost the opening August derby match 3-0 at Tannadice and the December return by the same margin. A July pre-season friendly also saw the Tangerines walk off with a three-goal win.
“Our fans are desperate to win a derby match,” Douglas said. “As a group of players, we have been beaten twice in the league and once in a friendly. We have rarely done ourselves justice but we will give it a go.”
Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara, meanwhile, has told his players they will have to be at their best to overcome Dundee.
United are favourites to make it through to the last four in this weekend’s meeting with the SPL’s bottom club as they attempt to pull off a repeat of their 2010 efforts when they lifted the trophy at Hampden by beating Ross County.
But they must first get past a Dundee side who have new boss Brown at the helm.
McNamara said: “This will be a very tough game, no doubt about it. We all know derbies are special games and we’ll have to be good on the day to win. We can’t afford not to be as Dundee will be well motivated for the game and will want to get into the next round as much as we do.
“They got a good draw the other night against St Johnstone with ten men so we’re under no illusions about just how tough a match we’re facing.”
McNamara’s first game in charge saw them sweep past Rangers 3-0 in some style to make the last eight. But the former Celtic and Scotland defender admits he would be happy to settle for any kind of victory this time round so long as they secure their place in the semi-finals of the competition.
He said: “We played very well that day against Rangers. Everything just seemed to click. But this is a different game all together. It always is when you are up against your local rivals as you know it means so much to both sets of supporters. The bottom line as in any cup competition is to get through to the next round. That’s what we’re preparing to try and do because any cup run is special to any club. You obviously want to play well in every game but when it comes to a one-off situation the main thing is just to get into the next round.
“I know I have very good players here who can compete with anyone on their day. This is a big occasion coming up on Sunday and it’s one they should be really looking forward to. I’m excited about it and I’m sure the lads are too. We want to get the kind of result which the fans will be happy with along with ourselves.”