'They'll expect to run away with the league' - Ex-Hibs captain James McPake on facing Hearts Championship challenge as Dundee boss
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The clash between the two sides will be the most noteworthy in next season’s Championship when it gets up and running.
Not only will it be the two biggest clubs in the division facing each other but there is added narrative in the shape of McPake’s Hibs history, the fallout from Dundee’s change of mind in the SPFL’s resolution vote, plus these two teams will likely be the favourites for promotion.
McPake believes there will be an “expectancy” around the Capital club who romped to the title with a record 91 points total in 2014 when they were last in the Championship.
The 35-year-old, who originally took on the Dundee job on a caretaker basis at the end of the 2018/19 season, also expects plenty of attention from Hearts fans.
“They’ll come down as favourites and with an expectancy that they’re going to do what they did the last time and run away with the league,” he told The Courier. “That’s fine. It doesn’t concern me who’s in our league or who we’re playing against right now.
“All my focus at the minute is on Dundee. We need to make sure over a 27-game season we’re at it and we’re strong. We want to go and make our mark on this league.
“Of course, the fact it’s Hearts makes it big because of the size of the club. They’ll be favourites and will come down with a massive budget but we’ve seen budgets don’t always win you leagues.
He added: “There’s also my connections to Hibs – I reckon I get more stick off Hearts fans than I do Dundee United fans!
“For me, it’s just another team in the league we’re going to play three times.
“Hearts will be a threat, as will Ayr United, Inverness, Dunfermline and the others. We found that out the hard way last season with it taking us until March 10 to get above Ayr in the league and Inverness were still ahead of us.
“Our next aim was catching them so to just look at Hearts would be madness for me.”