Dundee chief executive Scot Gardiner has described John Brown's "passion" as one of the attributes that saw him installed as interim manager.
Brown replaces Barry Smith, who was sacked on Wednesday with the club 15 points adrift at the bottom of the SPL, with his contract due to run until the end of the season.
Brown is a surprise appointment given his lack of recent managerial experience.
The former Rangers defender's only managerial job, at Clyde, ended in November 2009 after less than two years in the post.
But he had two coaching spells with Rangers and left his role as a scout when Charles Green took control at Ibrox in June.
Gardiner believes Brown's knowledge of the club and his commitment to the cause can be an inspiration - despite relegation appearing to be a near certainty.
Gardiner told Sky Sports: "I think John's history and heritage at the club is a big part of it.
"The situation we had right now was we needed to bring someone in as an interim manager with passion, someone who could spark something with the team, something a little bit different.
"And John clearly has all those attributes.
"I've known John for a long time as well and he's been very honest in the last couple of days about what he would like to do. We were very honest with him so I am pleased, I'm pleased
with the choice.
"There are thousands of Dundee fans that we've got to think about now and we've got to do our best to the end of the season and I am sure John will do his damnedest to make a difference."
For Gardiner it was not such a difficult decision.
"We were inundated and in a very short space of time I had to make a decision," he added.
"Once I had spoken to John that was fairly obvious he was the man for the job."
Dundee face SPL leaders Celtic at Parkhead on Sunday but it is unclear how hands on Brown will be after assistant manager Ray Farningham prepared the team in the wake of Smith's sacking.
Dundee also have a huge match next Sunday when they face city rivals United in the William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-finals.
Gardiner, though, has not given up on survival, saying: "We've got some really important games coming up.
"These are massive games for our club and massive games for our fans and very important for the team and John knows that I know he will do his damnedest."