DUNDEE have appointed former player John Brown as their interim manager until the end of the season, to the surprise of their supporters and the wider Scottish football community alike.
Brown replaces Barry Smith, who was sacked on Wednesday with the club 15 points adrift at the bottom of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
The club announced the move earlier today, saying: “Having been inundated by high-calibre candidates over the last few days, one man stood out as perfect for the position of interim manager of Dundee FC. John Brown is a man with real heritage and history at Dundee and in his time as a player, he was an real inspiration, a fans’ favourite and he has never lost his feelings for the club.”
Brown’s appointment has surprised – and dismayed – many Dundee supporters, given his managerial track record and the fact that more proven candidates such as Jimmy Calderwood had expressed interest in the post. His only managerial job was at Clyde, who were in the First Division when he took over in 2008 but had
slumped to bottom place in the Second Division by the time he was sacked in November 2009. He had coaching spells with Rangers and left his role as a scout when Charles Green took control at Ibrox in June before launching a vociferous and widely publicised attempt to lead a fans’ buyout of Green’s consortium.
Dundee hope Brown, who spent four years at Dens as a player before joining Rangers, can prove to be the “inspirational leader” he was as a player. Although the Dark Blues are all but relegated, they have a huge match next Sunday in the shape of a Scottish Cup quarter-final against Dundee United.
The club’s statement continued: “His passion for Dundee was evident and his willingness to step up to the plate alongside his understanding of what we need, convinced us he is the man to address the challenges ahead of us. There is still a lot to play for this season with some vital games coming up and John will make sure that the Dundee fans see and understand that he is here to make a difference.
“Due to the challenges of our league position and the uncertainties over league reconstruction, it is impossible for us to set a budget for next season. Hopefully that position will become clearer soon and we will then look to appoint a manager in a longer-term position.
“In the meantime we hope that every Dundee fan will rally behind John and the team for the remainder of what can still be an exciting and historic season.”
That hope seemed a forlorn one today. Some boos reportedly rang out when the news was announced to a fans’ meeting with club directors, while many Dundee fans took to messageboards and Twitter to criticise both the appointment and the club’s board. Some said they would be handing in their season tickets, while others said they intend to protest at next week’s derby.
Dundee face SPL leaders Celtic at Parkhead tomorrow but Ray Farningham, who prepared the team in the wake of Smith’s sacking, will take charge in the dug-out.
They will also have one new face in their ranks after completing the signing of former Shamrock Rovers striker Don Cowan, who Smith brought in as a trialist after he was released.