Neil McCann made all the right noises regarding his belief in his capacity to dig Dundee out relegation trouble but the interim manager admitted that much more was at stake for the club than for himself as he left what he described as ‘the comfy seat’ to take over from Paul Hartley who was sacked on Monday following a run of seven successive defeats.
“It’s not a big risk for me. I think it’s maybe a big risk for the club. A lot of guys will think that because I haven’t been in a job before,” he admitted.
“In five games’ time will it be the start of a big successful managerial career, maybe not. Is it going to be a failure, no, because I have jumped into something I have fully prepared for mentally, because I know it’s something the boys are capable of getting out of. I have no lingering thoughts like ‘Have I done the right thing?”
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That assessment was in keeping of an approach to his work that he believes will stand him in good stead for the challenge ahead.
“I’m straight up front, I’m honest, I’m very hard working, I would say it’s one of my best qualities that when I go into something I don’t give less than 100 per cent as I did with my Sky job and those guys in there (the players) will hopefully get the best of it,” was his upbeat self-assessment.
What now confronts him is, of course, a very different challenge from offering opinions on the performances of teams and players from an armchair in a studio and the experiences of Gary Neville, who had acquired a formidable reputation as a pundit before having a calamitous spell as a manager, but perhaps even more relevantly Alan Shearer, when he had a brief spell in charge of his beloved Newcastle United in a failed bid to save them from relegation, could be seen as chastening.
McCann also knows his options remain open since he is still contracted to Sky where he is highly regarded, but as he thanked them for their support in allowing him to accept this chance, he seemed wholly undaunted.
“Sky have been fantastically supportive in terms of giving me this opportunity to come out of the comfy chair, as people call it and go into the firing line, but I’ve not got any fear,” said McCann.
“There’s nothing comes close to being a footballer, nothing. Second to that is being able to influence a football match by being a coach or a manager. Next to that, sitting in a chair talking about it and being close to it and having an impact to the viewers at home. I wouldn’t be as brash as to say enlighten them, but to try to offer an opinion as to why something’s happened.
“I’ve always taken view when I went into that job that I’d be constructive in my criticism. Of course I would have to criticise at times but I would do it in a way that hopefully players would respect that and it would be done in the right manner that I would face them.”
He noted that some of those he must now motivate are also players he has criticised previously, but he now gets the opportunity to put into practice his theories about what they have been doing wrong and he seemed in no doubt that the squad he is inheriting is good enough to get out of the bottom two places in the Premiership, noting that they have no reason to doubt their capacity to do so in their next match.
“They’ve gone to Fir Park already this season and come away with a handsome victory, so if they need to look for inspiration or proof that they’re capable of getting the results required they only have to dig a DVD out or rewind the footage of that and watch it,” McCann noted.
Having secured his place in club history when he scored on his second debut for them after coming out of retirement to help save them from relegation from the Championship in their darkest hour six years ago he is, then, ready to do so again.
“Those are things you can’t purchase in life. They are gifts given to you,” said McCann.
“So that was a trying time for the club. I understand what they were going through. I was a tiny part of the Dee-fiant season, but I was proud to play a part in it. This is the next chapter.”