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Gary Bowyer Steers Dundee Back into the Scottish Premiership

Gary Bowyer is facing up to a huge week that will decide his football future, but he does so in the knowledge that this season it was “mission accomplished” as he steered Dundee back into the Scottish Premiership.

The 51-year-old Football Careers client guided the Dark Blues to a craved-for promotion on Friday night with a 5-3 win at Scottish Championship rivals, Queen’s Park, in a nailbiting title decider. That victory meant the former Blackburn Rovers, Bradford City, Salford City, and Blackpool boss saw his side finish five points clear of Owen Coyle’s big-money Queen’s and guaranteed their step back up into Scotland’s top flight.

Now comes end-of-season drama with Gary being hotly tipped to return to former club Blackpool after their demotion to EFL League One. Bowyer’s dilemma sums up the often-forgotten sacrifices coaches make to pursue their careers in the beautiful game.

When Gary switched to Dundee last summer, he moved north alone. His two-year-old son Leo stayed down south and visits to see granddaughter Matilda have been few and far between. Gary revealed:

“It was a family choice coming to Dundee. I was out of work — wrongly, in my opinion — after losing my job at Salford. That’s football and this opportunity came along.

“I knew about the area because I brought Blackpool up there three years running. I loved coming up here. Listen, I’ve got a young little lad — he’ll be three in July — and a young granddaughter. She’ll be four in July, Matilda.

“Being away from those two more than anybody else really has been tough. Those are the choices we make in life and you have to get on with it. Friday night was special for them, the whole family, and I’m really proud.”

Whatever happens in the days to come, there can be no question Bowyer has enhanced his managerial reputation and padded his Football Careers CV in his time at Dundee. The son of legendary Nottingham Forest midfielder Ian Bowyer, who won two European Cups in Brian Clough’s heyday, used the managerial experience he has accumulated to get the Dees over the line in a nerve-jangling run-in.

Now he believes Dundee should use the example of Stephen Robinson’s St Mirren, who made it back into the Premiership five years ago, as inspiration. The Buddies have stayed put and are now playing Top Six football after the split. And Bowyer reasoned:

“We’ve got to use St Mirren as our inspiration and say: ‘They can break into that top six’. We have to take them as an example and get there. That’s the challenge, the club has to be in the position that they stop being a yo-yo club.

“That is going to require a helluva lot of work on and off the field. I’m not stupid, I’m aware of the salaries being paid below the top five in the Scottish Premiership and you look at the teams competing. You realise how competitive it is. It will be a massive summer but if we’re serious about it we have to invest.”

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