Derry Got Soul: Let’s Go Round Again (2018 Derry version)

Our resident podcaster Grant has penned the first of a series of blogs for the site on our shite state of affairs. Grant Hill worships at the altar of Tommy Coyne and Keith Wright. He is also the author of two books – Clubbed to Death and AK-86: Two Shots in the Heart of Scottish Football. You can buy both for the very reasonable price of £10 by emailing Grant.

Let’s Go Round Again (2018 Derry version)

There is a quote routinely credited to former Dundee full-back Albert Einstein that perfectly sums up the situation facing his old club.

Einstein, freed by the Dark Blues after falling foul of the club’s strict rules surrounding hair length, is said to have defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. Having appointed 20 managers in less than four decades and racking up almost as many administrations as cup finals in that time, Dundee’s modern history demonstrates that eat sleep sack repeat is no recipe for success.

But just as Gordon Brown’s claim to have ended boom-and-bust proved as premature as a virgin enveloped by Beyoncé, John Nelms’ pledge to eradicate hire-and-fire looks some way off for the minute.

Despite the obvious need to bring stability to the club, the peg Neil McCann’s perennially on-trend cardie hangs upon could hardly be any more shoogly following an unconvincing first season and a calamitous start to this one. Whenever a manager gets his jotters, the football commentariat, who have likely paid very little attention to the events leading up to the sacking, bristle at panic-merchant fans and the short-termism of directors. To which the obvious response is to respectfully tell them to fuck right off because they haven’t had to watch the shite the fans have. Unless you’ve seen your side pumped 3-0 at home by Ayr in a game that Mark fucking Kerr strolled your opinion is invalid.

The brilliant Bands FC project recently used Dundee’s crest as the inspirations for the Average White Band’ badge in recognition of the US-conquering funksters’ roots in the City of Discovery. One of AWB’s best-known records is Let’s Go Round Again. The pairing seems inspired as it looks like we may need to do just that again shortly.

 

Soul Searching

Analysts will tell you that the most successful teams are the ones who make the fewest managerial changes but the obvious caveat here is that managers at these clubs tend to be doing better than most, hence there being less need to replace them. As Dundee know more than any other club in Scotland, the cost of failure – in this instance relegation – is huge. Are the chances that persisting with an obviously struggling gaffer will lead to long-term improvement great enough to take that risk?

Of those to have managed Dundee over the past 40 years, only Donald Mackay, Archie Knox, Jocky Scott mk I and Jim Duffy mk I have left of their own volition. The rest were moved on one way or another. How many went on to achieve success that gave you reason to think they should just have been given more time? Would playing hide-and-seek up Campy have eventually payed off for Dave Smith? Was taking 7 from Airdrie just a bump in the road towards greatness under Alan Kernaghan? Or were we right to jettison them only to get it wrong when it came to appointing a replacement?

If Duffy II-Kerno and Jocky III-Chisholm taught us anything it’s that ‘any cunt would be better than that cunt’ is possibly the worst shout in football. Sacking Paul Hartley was the right thing to do. Replacing him with a novice with great taste in knitwear but a questionable temperament is looking a worse decision by the game. Yeah, we clearly need to stop switching managers but getting the right one in the first place is key to that.

Pick Up The Pieces

‘I’d rather see us play good football and lose than win ugly’ is another cliché trotted out by fans who haven’t quite thought through its implications. Neil McCann has certainly insisted his team play the ‘right way’ but, other than in increasingly rare patches, it hasn’t worked. As a result, we are actually worse to watch than the supposedly anti-football teams in our league who aren’t afraid to go direct, play the percentages and let their opponents know they are in a game. Losing ugly is the worst of both worlds.

Going back to that quote attributed to Einstein, what does it say about McCann that he keeps trying to play from the back and expect different results? Instead of creating a Derryfull of converts screaming ‘on the kerpit! keep it on the kerpit! Fucking kerpit futba, Dundee!’ the faithful are gripped with fear every time Meekings or Kusunga get the ball played to their feet.

No-one would love McCann to deliver a pus-shutter of a result at this Ibrox than me but the odds are longer than Alan Dinnie’s Mayor of Nairobi (allegedly). After that it’s Hibs at Dens. Even if he was to suddenly embrace pragmatism, it might be too late. To extend the Average White Band metaphor (is it a metaphor? I’ve had a long day), it looks like our board may have to Pick Up The Pieces once again. If so, we can only hope they get the hard part right this time.

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