Dundee manager Mark McGhee revealed that his players had dared him to go naked for a week if his pre-match sacrifices lead to victory over St Johnstone, but he feels his striking message is having a more serious impact.
McGhee told his players Monday that he had gone on a diet and turned down the heat to ensure his hunger and discomfort were a constant reminder that a big game was coming up on Saturday.
Dundee have a chance to reduce the gap at the bottom of the Premiership to two points, but defeat against the Saints would leave them eight adrift with four games remaining.
The former Scotland international was looking to his players to instigate his own change of approach in outlining his unusual plan and has seen the benefits as he seeks a first win in his 10th game in charge.
The 64-year-old said: “I think it’s (having an impact). Some people can understand what he was trying to do and other people think it’s funny. I tried to make it cheerful somehow. I could have chosen anything.
“The boys have made me promise that if we beat St Johnstone I’ll have to be naked for a week, which won’t help anyone, but you just have to do something.
“You have to do something to psychologically remind yourself and put yourself under a little bit of pressure, because there is a big game coming up. I think the players understand the message I’m trying to give.
“It’s not just sacrifices, it’s thinking a little differently, being aware of the game, training with a little more intensity and, as I said, preparing better to train.
“I have often told people that if I did one thing in my career that I could do again, it would be to prepare for training. We have prepared very well for the games, but we show up and train. Now, I look back and think, if I had prepared myself to train, I would have been a better player.
“We have maintained the intensity and quality in training. We’re trying to make sure it’s not just about running and fighting. We know that St Johnstone is going to fight us. If it’s a square, then anything could happen.
“We know that as well as matching them physically and earning the right to play, we also have to put the ball down at times and play and be creative and score goals.
“We’ve tried to remind them how good they can be and how much better they can be than they have been at times this season.”
From the players’ perspective, Jordan McGhee believes his coach’s words hit home.
“Since he said that, on Monday we went in and changed the intensity of training,” said the versatile former Hearts player.
“There have been small changes and I hope I can take the three points. We’ve played well in the last few games, but it hasn’t been three points, so every little change we make can help us get three points on Saturday.
“You are always learning as a footballer and different approaches help for different games.”
All three home stands were sold out after Dundee issued a special ticket deal for their last two home games, while around 2,000 Saints fans are expected to be at Dens Park.
The manager said: “I think it’s going to be a monster day, it really is. St Johnstone will be a big part of that, Callum (Davidson) and his team will come here and try. It has the makings of a true cup-end atmosphere.
“It’s up to us to reward our fans and give them something in what has been a pretty disappointing season so far.”