AS a keen student of the modern game, Dundee manager Tony Docherty is always searching for new ways to achieve that all-important “marginal gain” on the field of play.

The former St Johnstone, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock assistant, who took over at Dens Park in the summer and is currently in Ireland overseeing pre-season training, reads about football constantly and listens to podcasts on the sport during his free time.

But Docherty has found inspiration from an unlikely source in recent days – the book on football leadership that has been co-written by former Dundee United head coach Micky Mellon.

The First 100 Days: Leadership Secrets of the Premier League Managers earned glowing reviews when it was published two years ago and it has certainly given the new Dundee manager some useful pointers.

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“I am an educationist,” he said. “When I was out after Aberdeen, I did the League Managers Association course on football management. It was a University of Liverpool degree and you pick up so much from other sports and different areas of your own sport. 

“I also do a lot of work with the SFA doing the coaching courses and I have also spoken to a few of the rugby boys. There are loads you can get from sports and business.  You adapt things to your environment. 

“Players are footballers, but they are also human beings. It is trying to manage and get the best out of them. Any opportunity or research I can do then I will do it.”

Docherty added: “It is keeping up to date with what is new and relative. Keeping yourself current is important and I am quite big on that.

“I am reading Micky Mellon’s book ‘The First 100 Days’ just now and it is really good. I love that and all the high-performance podcasts. You need to be current and relevant.

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“The more experienced players are all doing that and looking for that marginal giant. If you don’t do that then you are getting left behind.”

Dundee romped to a 5-1 victory over Brechin in Docherty’s first game in charge at Glebe Park on Saturday take on Bray Wanderers in their second pre-season friendly at the Carlisle Grounds in County Wicklow this evening.

Docherty is pleased with the players he has brought in to strengthen his squad so far – Joe Shaughnessy, Scott Tiffoney, Charlie Reilly, Juan Antonio Portales and Zach Robinson have all arrived - but he is keen to add more new faces before the 2023/24 campaign gets underway in earnest.

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“I wouldn’t put a quantity on it, it is more quality,” he said. “There is a really robust process and we are quite specific about the profile of players we bring in. It is not about ability, but mentality and work ethic. 

“None more so than my signing of Joe Shaughnessy. He has all those personal qualities as well as being a good footballer. He has captained St Mirren and St Johnstone. 

“That is the type I want in the building along with the real talented young ones we have here, the Lyall Camerons, Josh Mulligans and Max Andersons. It is trying to get the right mix and being very specific in who we bring in.”