Dundee boss Tony Docherty wants to move on from pitch controversy

The manager wants focus to turn to his side's on-field successes.

Dundee boss Tony Docherty wants to move on from pitch controversy SNS Group

Tony Docherty hopes Dundee’s pitch controversies are behind them and his team are able to get the recognition he feels they deserve for their “wonderful” top-six achievement.

The Dark Blues have been heavily criticised for having five postponements at Dens Park this term due to waterlogging, including their fixture against title-chasing Rangers which was called off twice in the past month.

The showdown with Philippe Clement’s side is set to go ahead on Wednesday at the third time of asking after a successful pitch inspection on Tuesday, although contingency plans had been put in place to take it to St Johnstone’s McDiarmid Park in the event it was deemed unplayable.

“It was great, the news came through when we were up training and the players are buzzing about that,” manager Docherty said at his pre-match media briefing on Tuesday.

“Home has been fantastic for us so it’s great that we’ve got a game on at home to look forward to.”

In the event of an unexpected deterioration in the weather, the option remains to take the game to Perth.

But Docherty is optimistic his team will be able to play out the campaign without further disruption.

“That’s something I can’t affect, if that was the case,” he said. “We’ve all become weather forecasters in the last week or two but I think the forecast is to be fine so I would have real confidence in the fact the game will get played at Dens.

“Particularly with the weather the way it is now. I’d like to think we can look ahead now to the remaining six matches.”

After the match against Rangers was called off last Wednesday, the Ibrox club released a statement accusing Dundee of “negligence and unprofessionalism” and “repeatedly breaching SPFL rules”, but Docherty refused to be drawn on whether he felt the criticism had been unfair.

“All my focus and the team’s focus is on performances on the pitch,” he said. “Regardless of what the noise is outside, I’ll just continue to focus on my team and what I can affect.”

Docherty did acknowledge that Wednesday’s match had probably taken on an elevated status given the previous two postponements and the associated fallout.

“I think certainly with a lot of you guys (media) being here, there’s more focus on it from the outside,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of outside noise about it but it’s my job to make sure the focus stays within the football match.”

Dundee secured their top-six status at the weekend, and Docherty feels it would be wrong if that was lost amid the controversy that has erupted around their pitch.

Now he wants the focus to be on their push to overhaul fifth-placed St Mirren and try to qualify for Europe.

“I can’t speak on behalf of people outside the club, but I hope people do appreciate it because I think, in your first season up as the newly-promoted club, to achieve top six with a game to go is a wonderful achievement,” he said.

“Whether that’s been underappreciated or not, I don’t know. But we’ve done it, we’ve achieved it, so nobody can take it away from us.

“But the hard work starts now. It’s important you continue to set objectives. We’ve achieved the first two by retaining our Premiership status and getting into the top six and the next objective realistically would need to be to try and get that fifth place, and we’ll be doing all we can.”

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