Andy Harrow looks into why Dundee fans should be concerned for their Premiership status.
The defence still give away too many cheap goals
Steven Caulker was supposed to be the difference-maker, but it’s not worked out that way. The former England international is, at 26, still well within the prime years of his career and his signing was trumpeted as a real coup for Dundee and Neil McCann, but his performances have not matched the hype so far. In fairness to the centre half, he’d barely played this season prior to signing and he’s not had much time to develop an understandings with his teammates, but there’s certainly been no quick fix; the Dundee defence is at least as leaky as it was before his arrival. At the weekend, he and his partner, Josh Meekings, were responsible for shipping calamitous goals in a 4-0 defeat to St Johnstone. Dundee will have to hope they make big improvements in a short space of time.
There’s not enough quality in the final third
It’s difficult to know which of Dundee’s forward-thinking players will save them. Paul McGowan hasn’t sparked often enough this campaign; Sofien Moussa is frustratingly unpredictable; Faissal El-Bakhtaoui is wildly inconsistent, AJ Leitch-Smith hasn’t scored since January and Simon Murray is still adapting to this level.
Last season Marcus Haber helped secure their safety, with goals in wins against Motherwell and Kilmarnock and Dundee fans will need to hope one of the above names can come to rescue this season.
Neil McCann’s tactics aren’t working
The pushing match with St Johnstone goalkeeper Zander Clark highlighted the pressure Neil McCann’s currently under. A relaxed manager would likely not have reacted to the Perth side’s substitute goalkeeper in such a fashion, but Dundee are in trouble and McCann is fully aware of it.
Dundee’s position is partly of McCann’s doing. His signings have, by and large, failed and he has persisted with a possession-based approach, which starts with the goalkeeper. It’s not working - and hasn’t been for most of the season - as McCann is asking players low on confidence - and who aren’t natural ball players - to start attacks from deep in their own area. His naivety might cost him.
Their fixture list is daunting
Dundee’s four game’s before the split include a home fixture with Hearts and three away games against Aberdeen, Rangers and Celtic. They currently sit three points clear of 11th-placed Partick Thistle, but they’ll do well to pick up any points from that list of games. Of course, they can save themselves in the post-split period, but they might be chasing the pack by then.