Jim McIntyre the front-runner as Dundee sack Neil McCann

Neil McCann is no longer Dundee manager. Picture: SNS
Neil McCann is no longer Dundee manager. Picture: SNS
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Jim McIntyre has emerged as the front-runner to take over the managerial reins at Dundee after Neil McCann’s troubled tenure at Dens Park was last night brought to an abrupt end.

Chief executive John Nelms sacked McCann following a wretched run of results which has left them rooted at the foot of the Premiership and facing a fight for survival.

It is understood that top of Dundee’s wanted list is McIntyre, who was sacked by Ross County a year ago. McIntyre could be joined at Dens by his County assistant Billy Dodds, a former Dundee striker.

Dundee made no announcement on who will take caretaker charge ahead of their Premiership match against Livingston at Tony Macaroni Arena on Saturday.

It is understood, however, that Kenny Miller is willing to take on the role, which would mean a swift return to the club he quit as player/manager in August after just seven weeks in charge.

The 38-year-old Rangers striker signed for Dundee in late August in a desperate bid to solve their goal-scoring woes and is now a strong contender to lead the troubled Tayside club for this weekend’s crucial encounter. It is believed, though, that Miller would not be interested in applying for the vacancy on a permanent basis.

McCann took training as normal yesterday before attending the club’s reserve game at Dundee’s Riverside in the afternoon. The 41-year-old was then summoned to Dens Park by Nelms to be told he was being relieved of his duties after just a year-and-a-half at the helm.

Dundee had wanted to bring in former Hearts manager Jim Jefferies to assist McCann and his assistant, Graham Gartland, but the inexperienced duo weren’t in favour of such a move.

McCann left his job as a Sky Sports pundit to take over at Dens Park in April 2017. He kept the Dark Blues up for two consecutive seasons but had won only one of eight league games this season, a recent 2-0 win away to fellow strugglers Hamilton.

Dundee have really toiled in front of their home supporters in the league this season and were also knocked out of the Betfred Cup by Championship side Ayr United in the summer.

A club statement last night said: “The club can confirm that manager Neil McCann has today left the club.

“We have explored alternative options to support the management staff recently but unfortunately these did not come to fruition.

“Assistant manager Graham Gartland has been relieved from his role also.”

McIntyre and Dodds have emerged as leading contenders to succeed McCann on a permanent basis on Tayside. McIntyre has support within the Dens boardroom and is known to be keen on a return to the dug-out having been sacked by County just over 12 months ago.

The former Dundee United striker, 46, guided County to their first-ever major trophy by defeating Hibs 2-1 in the League Cup final at Hampden in March 2016.

Dundee face a crunch clash away to on-form Livi this weekend before playing Hearts at home next Tuesday and then must prepare for a daunting visit of champions Celtic at the end of the month.

Dundee’s directors couldn’t contemplate the prospect of being relegated and were concerned about the impact of poor results on attendances at Dens Park in the run up to Christmas, so decided to wield the axe.

Now they must hope they make the right appointment to get the club back on track as a mere glance across the city at rivals Dundee United shows how difficult it is to bounce back from the Championship – the Tannadice club are currently enduring their third straight season out of the top flight.

Dundee’s players have been given today off as the club step up their efforts to appoint McCann’s successor, before returning to training on Thursday.

By then, all eyes will be on who leads them out against Livingston, with Miller firmly in the frame and McIntyre being viewed as the long-term answer.

Others names in the frame include former Morton gaffer Jim Duffy and ex-Inverness Caledonian Thistle manager John Hughes, both of whom are currently out of work.