Dundee’s new manager, Paul Hartley, and chief executive, Scot Gardiner, both shot down conspiracy theories last night claiming that the former Scotland international had already been lined up to replace John Brown before the manager exited Dens Park earlier this week.
Dundee unveiled former Celtic and Hearts midfielder Hartley at a 6pm press conference yesterday in wake of Brown’s departure as they bid to step up their quest for the Championship title. Gardiner insisted last night that Brown had resigned and had not been sacked. “It was 100 per cent John’s decision to leave Dundee,” he said.
Hartley’s arrival following his decision to quit part-time Alloa recently fuelled suggestions it was already a done deal before Brown had departed. However, Gardiner rejected those claims as Hartley signed a two-and-a-half-year deal ahead of Saturday’s clash with promotion rivals Hamilton. Gardiner said: “I want to put this to bed. It’s disrespectful to Paul, to Alloa, to Dundee and to John Brown to suggest this was some massive fit-up. It’s quite ridiculous.”
Hartley, who has 14 league fixtures remaining this season, insists he has no fears about the pressure of trying to lead the club back to the top flight. The club have sacked eight managers in 13 years but Hartley, who won back-to-back promotions with part-time Alloa, isn’t daunted about the task ahead. “It doesn’t worry me that Dundee are always expected to win the league. It’s something that I’ll relish,” said Hartley. “I’ve come into a team at the top end of the table and that is more pressure. Yeah, I realise that.
“All the talk at the start of every season is about Dundee being clear favourites to win the title, because they’ve got the biggest budget and biggest squad. I need to get a winning mentality into this squad – and try to play a certain style of football. We’ll have to identify that quickly.”
Hartley also revealed he received a message from Brown wishing him title glory.
“I got a text from John Brown today, wishing me all the best for the job,” he said. “That was a really nice touch. So I do want to put the conspiracy theories to bed. People say there’s something in it when I leave Alloa than, two or three weeks later, I walk into a full-time job at Dundee. I left the club of my own accord, nothing else.
‘It was a really nice touch by John to text me. And he did well, despite being under pressure, they’re still lying second in the league. It’s up to me to get them over that line.
“You always have sympathy when someone loses their job. I’m now employed to get this club to the Premiership. And they want to get there – they’re not one of those clubs waiting on Rangers and Hearts to get into the league.”
Dundee sit second top in the table behind leaders Falkirk on goal difference and Hartley can’t wait to get into the dug-out for this weekend’s crunch clash with Accies at Dens
Hartley said: “‘I see it as a challenge. They’ve got a good group of players – and they’re in a great position. They’ve got a great opportunity to win the league. It’s a cracking game to start.”