Thursday, May 19, 2016

2015-16 report card - Dundee

Dundee FC crest.svg

LEAGUE: 8th, 48pts (2014-15 - 6th, 45pts)
SCOTTISH CUP: Quarter-finals
LEAGUE CUP: Second round
MOST USED FIRST XI: Scott Bain, Paul McGinn, Julen Etxabeguren, Thomas Konrad, Kevin Holt, Nick Ross, Paul McGowan, Gary Harkins, Rory Loy, Greg Stewart, Kane Hemmings

OVERVIEW: In my season preview I predicted Dundee to finish above their neighbours - and I was spot on with that.  I also predicted that they would finish fourth, which was very wrong.  On their day, the Dark Blues certainly looked capable of such a feat; after all, they had two nominations in the Player of the Year shortlist.  But there were too many games drawn when they should have been won, and too many points dropped against weaker opponents.  Having been top six for most of the season, finishing up in the bottom half was pretty galling.  I'd say that they underachieved, given that the club's American backers have been relatively generous.  But many Dundee fans remember recent darker days all too well and are just happy to be established in the top flight again...and to be top dogs in the City of Discovery.

HIGH POINTS: I imagine most fans rather enjoyed the schadenfreude of relegating their neighbours at Dens Park...and with a last minute winner too.

LOW POINTS: Losing James McPake to a horrendous knee injury on new year's day was a massive blow, as he was in outstanding form.  Dundee always looked soft in defence after losing him.

STAR MAN: Hemmings came up with 26 goals in all competitions; not bad for a guy who was playing for Cowdenbeath two years ago.  Quick and mobile, yet big and strong, and a capable finisher, the Englishman is the sort of striker every manager in this league craves.

ONE FOR THE FUTURE: I'm sure I mentioned Craig Wighton last year, so this time I'll go for full-back/wide midfielder Cammy Kerr, who played well when called upon.

WASTE OF SPACE: Spanish loanee Arturo made a handful of sub appearances and failed to make any sort of impact in his four months on Tayside.

THE BOSS: Paul Hartley may be a bit fortunate that everyone's been rather distracted by events down the other end of Tannadice Street for the last several months, given that he was given decent financial backing to land the likes of Hemmings and Rory Loy last summer.  Often thought of as a manager with considerable tactical acumen, Hartley could be accused of overthinking things on occasions.  I've also heard tales that his arrogance winds up an awful lot of folk.  To be fair, injuries didn't help, though the quality of cover at centre-back left a lot to be desired.  Still a relatively inexperienced coach (just shy of 40), he's not under any pressure yet anyway.

PROSPECTS FOR NEXT SEASON: I think a top six spot is the minimum target.  I would expect the budget to be well ahead of what St. Johnstone, Motherwell and Inverness can offer and therefore it should be possibly to leapfrog these clubs.  There's not a lot wrong with the starting XI once McPake is fit again (although if Paul McGinn leaves a new right-back will be needed) but it's squad depth that is the issue.  The pre-contract moves for Danny Williams and James Vincent suggest that Hartley recognises this.

FIRST TEAMERS DEFINITELY LEAVING: Arturo (end of loan), Thomas Konrad

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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