Dundee are in a scrap or – as McGowan more pointedly put it, because that is what he does – they are “in the sh*t”. That was plain to see to anyone present at the Tony Macaroni Arena on Tuesday as the visitors fell 2-0 to Livingston, their sixth defeat in succession.
It must be assumed the 34-year-old McGowan is among the “senior players” manager James McPake felt had let down their younger teammates on the night. If so, he wasn’t feeling hard done by. He didn’t appear slighted. “Words were said – they had to be,” the midfielder accepted.
McGowan took responsibility for failing to equalise when one-on-one with ‘keeper Max Stryjek shortly after Bruce Anderson scored the first of his match-winning double.
“I should score to make it one each, I probably should have hit it first time but conceding from two corners…?" he reflected. "It was poor - every one of us.
“Hopefully it’s an eye opener because we’re in the sh*t now, it’s plain and simple,” he continued. “If I hear anybody talking about top six or that sh*te, they will be told to shut up because we’re in a dogfight now. We need to realise that.
“Livingston were good. Every one of them fight for each other and make it hard for you. We were miles off doing that.
“It’s a major eye opener," he added. "The manager is working to get players in. They’re needed but as players we have to look at ourselves.”
Dundee now face a potentially make-or-break run of games over the next 16 days. A Scottish Cup trip to Dumbarton on Saturday is a banana skin if ever there was one. McPake knows his future may hinge on what happens in the four league games directly after this potentially awkward cup assignment.
Dundee visit St Johnstone in a crunch bottom two encounter and then host St Mirren, Dundee United and Ross County in quick succession. On paper it seems like the perfect opportunity to amass some precious points against teams around them. On the pitch, judging from the evidence presented in midweek, there’s plenty of scope for Dundee to play themselves deeper into peril.
One glimmer of light is that McPake has form for turning around spells of poor results. However, somewhat alarmingly, McGowan questioned the fighting spirit in the current side.
“I feel when things are against us we go into our shell,” he said. “When we’re on it I hear voices and everyone demanding the ball. I didn't hear that tonight.
"The game is edgy, it’s like, ‘you go and do something’ or pass the buck,” he added. “It was flat. There was nobody being demanding or helping each other out. It’s the easiest thing in football to talk. Help them out, shout ‘time!' or 'man on!’
“I had a bad feeling after the first five, ten minutes. When we’ve got one, two or three not at it we’re in for a long night. Can we grind out a 1-0 victory at this moment in time? I don’t think we can - and that’s me being honest.”