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New Alloa manager going home to Dens for his debut

Barry Smith was yesterday appointed as Alloa Athletic manager and believes that he has come a long way as a coach since leaving Dundee.

That might have proven a much harder sell given that the 39-year-old will make his debut in an SPFL Championship match at Dens Park tomorrow, against the club which sacked him a year ago.

That experience as manager of Dundee has left its mark on Smith and his value as a coach continues to be assessed by what he achieved in charge of the club. There was no escaping his former side following his appointment at Recreation Park either, since Smith was chosen ahead of another former Dundee manager, Alex Rae.

Smith had spent some time developing his skills as a coach with Ross County, but it is the 15 years of service on Tayside which has shaped his career. He took charge amid trying circumstances; leading Dundee through administration and a 25-point penalty in the first division, before gaining entry to the top flight following the crisis at Rangers. Smith was then dismissed last February, his side struggling for form at the bottom of the league.

The sacking of a favourite son would leave a bitter taste among such supporters, but Smith would not lose his appetite for management. "I wanted to be a manager again of a first team and have the chance to do that at Alloa," he said. "Alloa are a good club, who have progressed well over recent years, and it is exciting to be a manager again."

He will have noticed the weight of expectation as soon as he walked through the door - Alloa having enjoyed notable success under predecessor Paul Hartley. He intends to hit the ground running at Dens Park tomorrow. "The match being there is coincidence, whatever," he said. "The most important thing is Alloa going out to get three points."

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