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Dundee v St Johnstone: The more things change, the more they stay the same

DAVID McCracken shrugs wearily.

John Brown has been encouraged by what he has seen in his first few days  in charge
John Brown has been encouraged by what he has seen in his first few days in charge

"There has been chaos at that club for years now," says the St Johnstone defender, referring to a tumultuous week for Dundee.

The centre-back recalls making his way in the game with Dundee United a decade ago and feeling utterly bemused by the regular sightings of Claudio Caniggia and Fabrizio Ravanelli on Dens Road. He remembers the administration that follows. And the further cash troubles that engulfed the club just a couple of years ago.

The events of the past few days, therefore, have barely roused his interest. "You become immune to it, unless you are a player or fan and are caught up in it," the 31-year-old said. "You feel for the players but you can't afford to be sentimental about it. Besides, they aren't alone. Look at what has been going on at Hearts. It seems to have become part of football."

For McCracken, Dundee's woes are a distraction to his own side's ambitions. The McDiarmid Park outfit travel to Dens this evening without the suspended Murray Davidson but with ambitions of earning the runners-up spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, a run of four wins in seven matches having propelled them to within a point of second place.

"Every point counts now," he said. "We are eyeing up second spot but it won't be just us. Probably another four or five teams will see it the same way. If we go on a run of wins we can achieve that but we know two or three defeats drags you back down the table. We're happy letting the focus fall elsewhere and keep working under the radar."

For Dundee, the aim is much more prosaic. The gap of 15 points between them and safety appears insurmountable, even if John Brown spoke defiantly about retaining their top-flight status when he was unveiled on Monday.

Combined with the apparent mutiny among fans and divisions in the boardroom, it does not lend itself to a positive atmosphere but striker John Baird wants the team to help change that. "Whatever happens on the park is the be-all-and-end-all," he said. "It's got to comes from us. Our performances dictate what happens elsewhere so hopefully we can make the fans forget about what's been happening by starting to turn things round."

Brown, for his part, has been enthused by the players' mood. "I'm so surprised," he said. "For the week they've had, they've been tremendous and the atmosphere has been great. The lads had Monday off so they've come back in buzzing, with 11 massive league games to look forward to. I've just said we've got a 15-point gap to make up so we have to take chances without being crazy."

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