Dundee manager James McPake is signing players like Celtic striker Leigh Griffiths for footballing reasons – as he’d ‘lose his job’ for friendship being a route into his Dens Park squad.
The recently-promoted Scottish Premiership club have signed the 31-year-old – who played for Dundee between 2009-2011 – on a season-long loan from Celtic. McPake played with Griffiths at Livingston then Hibs, and having brought his trophy-laden spell in Glasgow to a close for now, McPake believes bringing Griffiths in is shrewd.
Dundee’s boss explained: “I am delighted to get Leigh in. It was a deal that we had been working on for a couple of weeks and Celtic eventually accepted our offer. They felt it was acceptable just before the window shut and then it was up to us to get everything done.
“He will be a fantastic addition. He’s shown in two days training so far just how good a player he is. What interested me were his goals and striker play. He is a top striker and he has scored goals at every level. He has won multiple Scottish Premiership’s, League Cup’s and Scottish Cup’s.
“We have shown with Graham Dorrans, Charlie Adam and now Leigh that if someone of that calibre comes up, we’ll have a look. I have known him for 15 years and I know about all the problems and stuff. I have Leigh the person, a fantastic person, who is still the same humble guy I knew at Livingston.”
During his tenure as Dundee manager, McPake has brought in people he knows well like former Scotland pair Adam and Dorrans. Ex-Hibs teammate Jason Cummings is with the club too and Paul McGowan is one of McPake’s closest friends in football, as is assistant manager Dave Mackay.
McPake insists there isn’t a jobs for the boys mentality at Dens Park: “I am not signing mates as if I was doing that, I would lose my job. I am signing top footballers. I have signed Leigh as a footballer, not my friend. It gets banded about that Paul McGowan plays because he’s my mate – that’s not true.
“Paul plays because he is one of the most consistent players in our team. Just ask Gordon Strachan that (Dundee technical director). He thought Paul was the best player in our team last year. I am the manager of this club and these guys are not my mates. We pick teams to win games and it doesn’t always work.
“The relationship is there, it helps, but you need to be willing to work with them and vice-versa. They have all been good for us. Graham performed well for us before going to Australia and Charlie is doing great for us. So let’s give Leigh the time to get up to speed and do the same. It’s selling these guys on what we want to do as a football club.”
With summer business now concluded at Dundee, the free agency market remaining an option, McPake is pleased with Dundee’s transfer window work: “I am delighted with our business. Like when Graham came, Charlie came, and now with Leigh, you have to ask the question with some players.
“There have been other additions which make me very happy with the window. But Covid-19 is still around and we have been hit a couple of times. When we are fully fit and healthy, we have a strong squad to stay in this league.”
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