A lot happened in matchday eight of the Scottish Premiership. St Johnstone lost for the…
It can be difficult to assess the true quality of this Dundee team. Earlier in the season, there was data to suggest Neil McCann’s side had been unlucky not to pick up more points, such was the strength of their Expected Goals tally. Some claimed that fortune would even itself out over the course of the campaign, that their position near the foot of the Scottish Premiership table was somewhat false.
To a certain extent, that turned out to be true. Neil McCann’s side have since lifted themselves up to 10th place in the standings. However, the Dee are still expected to be involved in a fight against the drop until the end of the season. They are one of about three teams expected to be down there come May.
So who should they target when the January transfer window opens? Where are the problems areas in the Dundee team and how can they resolve them? We’ve looked at some of the data and figures behind their season so far and come up with some suggestions of where they should head in the second half of the season.
Like so many teams in the Premiership this season, Dundee could do with finding a striker. A goal-getter. Someone to put the ball in the back of the net. The Dark Blues have only scored 21 goals in 21 games, making them the division’s joint second lowest scorers. That is their greatest deficiency and that’s where they need a solution.
With just four goals apiece, Mark O’Hara and Ajay Leitch-Smith are Dundee’s joint top scorers this season. Past that, Sofien Moussa has scored just three goals from 15 appearances, with Fayssal El Bakhtaoui netting three times in 19 outings. And Marcus Haber has just one goal to show for his campaign so far.
With 3.18 shots per 90 mins, El Bakhtaoui is getting efforts away on goal, but his conversion rate is decidedly poor. Looking past the Moroccan, Dundee don’t have another player in the Scottish Premiership’s top 30 shot takers. McCann’s side simply aren’t creating enough in front of goal, or rather they don’t have the strikers to make the most of the positive situations players like Scott Allan (who boasts the third highest key passing rate in the league) are creating for them.
In fact, Allan is the player around which McCann should build his attack. The on loan Celtic playmaker almost plays more through balls than any other player in the Premiership (3.08 per 90 minutes). He needs more effective goalscorers in front of him, though, for that quality to truly come to the fore.
For McCann, this transfer window will primarily be about keeping hold of players rather than signing them. Young defender Jack Hendry has been linked with a number of clubs, including Celtic and Southampton, with O’Hara also thought to be attracting potential suitors after an impressive first half of the season. Lose those two players and staying up will become much more difficult for the Dee.
In terms of bringing players in, Dundee should look to use the loan system. They should test the waters at Ibrox in an attempt to lure Ryan Hardie away from Rangers. The 20-year-old has only made six appearances for the Gers this season, so it would be in the interest of the Govan side as well to give the forward more game time. Hardie’s average of 2.6 shots per game indicate that he would give them what they need, although Dundee might face competition from Queens Park Rangers, who are also reportedly interested.
McCann: “If you ask any manager, it’s the same, there’s a wee Christmas list and I’m no different from the kids – I’m looking for something come Christmas and, if I can get a player in in the January sales, that would do me nicely.”
On keeping Hendry: “Jack signed for two years in the summer, I’m not expecting him to go anywhere, I don’t want him to go anywhere. I’ve got a team that’s got so much to do in terms of where I want to take the club, so I’m not looking for anybody to start disappearing out the door.”