Dundee chief John Nelms refuses to answer questions at Mark McGhee unveiling but does give some insight with address

John Nelms has described James McPake as “like a son” to him but then admitted discussions about removing the Dundee manager began several weeks ago.

Mark McGhee in unveiled as the new manager of Dundee  alongside managing director John Nelms.
Mark McGhee in unveiled as the new manager of Dundee alongside managing director John Nelms.

The managing director was clearly emotional as he introduced Mark McGhee at Dens Park earlier today. News of the identity of McPake’s successor had already provoked a dismayed reaction from Dundee fans on social media.

McGhee has not managed in Scotland since leaving Motherwell after a 5-1 defeat to Dundee five years ago.

His last stint as outright manager was a favour to a friend at non-league club Eastbourne Borough. His appointment has been viewed as merely a favour to a friend from Dundee technical director Gordon Strachan, his old Aberdeen teammate.

There has been outrage over the fact that McGhee cannot even sit in the dugout for his first six games due to an outstanding touchline ban after he was sent to the stand at Pittodrie in his last days at Motherwell.

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As it stands, the new manager isn’t permitted to be in the dugout until the home game against his former club Aberdeen on April 2. In what could be termed as a latest slap in the face to Dundee fans, Nelms declined to answer questions about the circumstances surrounding McGhee's appointment. It is the latest significant issue affecting the club where supporters have been left in the dark.

The managing director’s refusal to enter dialogue with fans has already been the motivation for one supporters’ group, Dee4Life, to make public letters sent to the club as far back as November concerning such fundamental issues as the future of Dens Park. They have not yet received any answers to their concerns.

Nelms was brief and to the point as he addressed the matter of the six-game ban – “we think there are ways around it” – while giving some insight into the thought process involved in sacking McPake following two successive wins. Dundee are currently 11th, a point ahead of bottom club St Johnstone.

“First of all, I’d like to thank James McPake for everything that he’s done for us," he said. "James is like a son to us. He’s been with us for eight-and-a-half years.

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"He’s been a player, a captain, an under-18s manager, caretaker manager, manager. We put his knee back together.

“We want to thank him for everything that he’s done. He is a much loved and beloved member of the Dundee Football Club family. That is all I’m going to say about that and all I’m going to say about James. He knows our feelings.

“Now we’re in a situation where we thought it was time for us to have a change. We thought … we have a problem. We need to stay in the league, we want to stay in the league. We have to take a look at where we’re at.

“Do we think that we can do it the way we were doing it and be successful? We took that decision and said ‘no, we don’t think we can do that.’

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“Gordon and I started having conversations a few weeks back and started talking about we can and cannot do. We started having external conversations with people to say ‘is there a better solution than what we currently have?’

“We’ve come to the resolution that we think there might be (a better solution) from what’s been said to us in these conversations.”

Nelms stressed that while he normally likes to think long-term, "the future is us staying in the Premiership". He then walked out of the room after commenting that "you don't need to talk to me".

Many may beg to differ – including long-suffering fans of the Dens Park club.

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