Mark McGhee claims Motherwell should never have sacked him as bullish Dundee boss prepares for Fir Park return

Mark McGhee insists he should never have been sacked by Motherwell as he launched a stiff defense ahead of his return to Fir Park for the first time since he was sacked five years ago.

The Dundee boss believes he has met every objective laid down to him as a Well manager – keeping them in the Premiership and giving the club a much-needed identity.

McGhee led the Steelmen into Europe in his first stint and returned in 2015 charged with revitalizing a club who were in free fall again.

He came in and led Motherwell from a relegation fight to fifth, gave young players like Chris Cadden their chance and put a ‘pride’ back in the Lanarkshire club.

Then after an injury-hit run and a poor sequence of results he found himself out of a job the following February.

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McGhee said: “I was really disappointed and I felt let down.

“I was given a brief by Les (Hutchison) and I was given 18 months to fulfill it.

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“I did it in five months and then when it got a little bit sticky the following season, as far as I am concerned we had injuries and were weakened and I got sacked.

“They got me in because they were worried about the state of the place and the club going down.

“They gave me a list of objectives and every single one I fulfilled, including keeping us up and we finished mid-table.

“There was all sorts of stuff, like balancing the books, getting young players in the team, which we did with Chris Cadden and others.

“They wanted to find an identity for the club and I came up with pride, the personal responsibility in developing excellence and I was trying to weave that into the young boys.

“At the same time I felt pride was a word that Motherwell could really associate with the steel and all that.

“I balanced the books, got the young boys in the team and kept them up.

“The season before could have only been a success and to leave the way I did was disappointing.

“It just didn’t make sense to me at all. “It came as a surprise and I was disappointed.”

McGhee admitted he still has a lot of happy memories from his time at Motherwell and doesn’t hold any grudges.

He also revealed his son, Archie, is coming up for the game because of his connection with the Steelmen.

“I am also not someone who holds grudges,” the Dundee manager stated.

“I have spoken to Alan (Burrows) and I will be looking forward to seeing all the boys that were there when I was there.”

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Meanwhile, fit-again has managed to salvage his own season and now he is determined to save Dundee’s.

The big defender made a shock return as a substitute in the midweek draw with Hibs.

Ashcroft tore his hamstring back in November and had been expected to be out for the season but has made a quicker than expected recovery and is determined to help keep Dundee in the Premiership.

He said: “It was good to get back playing again, it had been a long time coming.

“When it first happened I was looking at eighteen weeks, which would have taken me pretty much right to the end of the season.

“But after I got the operation done I felt really good and have been able to get back in just over twelve.

“This is my first long-term injury so it has been hard watching from the stand.

“Football is easy when you are sitting up there but it’s even more frustrating.

“I have been out there when things haven’t been nice but you’d much prefer to be out there helping that sitting watching.

“I have been working hard with the physio and he’s got me back pretty fit.

“I’ve been training for a few weeks so it will be up to the manager when I start a game. If it’s this weekend then I’m ready for it.

“I’ve followed Gerry the physio and the surgeon’s advice, stuck to what they have told me to do and it has worked.”

Ashcroft was a big part in Dundee winning promotion last season. He also has experience at the bottom end of the top-flight with Kilmarnock and knows it is all about keeping calm.

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He claimed: “I went through it a few times with Kilmarnock, we were down there many times and it was often down to the wire.

“I was in the play-offs with Killie, it was horrible and it was tough but we got the job done at the end.

“Hopefully we can go on a run and it doesn’t come to that with us but we’ll need to see.

“All you can do is stay calm, the place can get edgy, the fans can get edgy – and that’s completely understandable.

“But you have to stick together, it doesn’t get easier if you don’t stay calm. “

Dundee are without captain Charlie Adam, Zak Rudden and Luke McCowan, while McGhee has also admitted a move for free agent Yaya Sanogo is looking unlikely, with the French striker still not prepared to commit.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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