Are Dundee prepared for the season ahead?
I would like to think so. Hartley had the team to a training camp in Hungary, as he did last season, at the beginning of July and it seemed to do the trick last term. PH is very big on fitness and is very thorough in everything he does, so I’ve no doubt the team will be in good shape. The pre season games were against a good standard of opposition with Wigan and Everton visiting Dens and us giving a good account of ourselves, so hopefully we’re ready for the real stuff.
What signing are you most looking forward to seeing?
Im torn between 2 being honest, Kane Hemmings and Kevin Holt. Hemmings looks like he could be the striker we’ve been missing for a wee while now, pace to burn with an eye for goal. Him and Greg Stewart got about 40 goals between them 2 seasons back in a struggling Cowdenbeath team so here’s hoping they can gel quickly. And we badly lacked an attacking LB last year so Kevin Holt looks like he ticks the boxes on that one. We paid a fee for him as there was a good bit of interest, so expecting big things from him.
Kevin Thomson, our skipper. It’s pretty simple that when he plays, we play well and pick up points. He’s a class act. Just keeping him fit is the issue.
A lack of pace and width. We’re stacked with plenty good footballers in the central midfield area, Thomson, McGowan, Nicky Low, Nick Ross, Harkins… But with no real ‘wingers as such’. Hartley likes to play pretty narrow in midfield with our fullbacks expected to get up and down the sides providing the width. It seemed to be an issue last season which hasn’t really been addressed. Greg Stewart plays from the left but he’s not a natural wide player. Time will tell.
How would you rate Paul Hartley and can he improve upon last year?
Really highly. All Dundee fans do. 3 successive promotions and a top flight, top 6 finish in your first 4 years as a manager says it all really. Although a few label him tactically naïve at times, mostly on the back of the New Year’s Derby at Tannadice, but that’ll come through time I’m sure. Expectations at Dens are high and the fans will be expecting a minimum top 6 finish again next year, and with the players he has brought in and moved on, there’s no reason why we can’t achieve that.
Anyone or any club you are worried about that may cause problems for you?
Not worried about any particular team. Although a better performance in the derbies wouldn’t go a miss! Although we did get the monkey off our back last season and won one at Dens, which was the so-called ‘first in 10 years’… We were in the first division for about 7 of those seasons so it actually equated to about 2 seasons!
Expectations for this season?
Again, a top 6 finish, a few derby wins and a good run in the cups. Same as most of the clubs in the league really.
Where will Dundee finish in the league this season?
I’d like to think top 4. We have added good players, while I feel St Johnstone and Inverness may struggle a bit whilst Utd look like being a bit weaker. Celtic, Dons, Hearts then us, hopefully.
What was the highlight of last season?
The derby win at Dens – Great to finally get one over them!
What was the low point?
New Year’s Day. To be beaten by your biggest rivals is bad enough at the best of times, but to be hammered by 6 was a real sore one. They’d given us 4 at Dens in the September, but we’d picked up. Everything went against us on the day though, with Scott Bain injured and his deputy Kyle Letheren being injured in the warm up! That left an untested young German named Arvid Schenk (I think that’s how you spell it) who we’d recently signed to be thrown in at the deep end. We went a goal down after 30 seconds to a big deflection, got back into it to go 1-1, then the wheels came off and Utd were rampant. 4-1 ahead at half time, then it was damage limitation second half. Spoiled everybody of a dark blue persuasions New Year and then some!
Who will win the Premiership?
Celtic at a canter as usual.
Who will be relegated?
I think Hamilton will struggle.