Match Review – Livingston vs Dundee United – 23/02/18

Anyone remember the 2nd of January? That was the day we won against Brechin. It was also our last league victory. Tonight’s game against Livingston was very much a case of last chance saloon. We faced a team who have shown everyone that with a decent team spirit and a huge amount of determination you can achieve great things. Livingston are basically what Dundee United look like in an alternate universe.

I travelled through to the game utterly convinced that we would at least see something different. A different shape to our team, a different approach to our play and maybe even a different attitude. More fool me. It was apparent that even just a few minutes into the game that we had reverted to type and that our rigid 4231 with Scott McDonald as the lone striker was again going to show everyone that we are indeed a team without any real identity. We don’t have the personnel to play any kind of football that has any real purpose. Long ball? We have a team full of midgets with one or two ‘physical’ players with no presence. Neat and intricate football? We don’t have the players good enough to pull that off. When things do then invariably fall apart we are left with a group of individuals who after the first Livingston goal all started pointing at each other as if nobody knew exactly who was doing what.

Csaba Laszlo has inherited a poor squad. He has also signed some poor players. The role of Darren Taylor in all of this has to be questioned but it is clear that this group are simply not good enough to navigate their way out of the championship. What is also now beginning to show is Laszlo’s own frailties as manager of this group of players.

Tonight was, in many ways, the perfect game to highlight the differences between what happens when a club starts to get things right and a club that is now stuck in a spiral of poor decisions and one that has a poisonous atmosphere surrounding it. Yes we played pretty well for a 20 minute spell in the second half, yes we were moments away from a point (and close to snatching all three) but to be honest did we deserve anything out of the game? Probably not. Livingston were a better team and the word ‘team’ is the absolute factor in all of this. We are not a team at the moment and we are miles away from resembling one.

Weeks ago it was a case of trying to work out exactly what had to happen and when for us to win the league. Now? I can’t be the only one looking at what we need to even scrape a playoff spot?

Dundee United Player Ratings – 

25. Harry Lewis – 4 – Needed to be dropped for tonight’s game and wasn’t. He is a young goalkeeper having a confidence crisis and the manager needs to protect him by moving him aside for the time being.

2. Stewart Murdoch 4 – Showed a bit of determination in the second half but still major flaws in his game defensively. Could have won the game for United at the death.

4. Mark Durnan – 4 – I’ve been a defender of Durnan and he was important in the first half but faded badly in the second. At fault for the the winner?

3. Tam Scobbie – 4 – On paper he makes the defence much more balanced but he is missing a yard of pace and isn’t sharp enough at the moment.

17. Jamie Robson – 3 – Should not be in the team and even if Brandon Mason isn’t up to much it is time to give Robson some time on the bench.

16. Willo Flood – 5 – He obviously cares and he does his running about the pitch routine to prove it but he isn’t dominant enough to impact on games in the way he should be.

24. Grant Gillespie – 3 – Very disappointing from someone who should have been out to impress in his first game in his preferred position. Poor.

58. Emil Lyng – 2 – I’m always keen to give players a chance but he definitely does not have any real redeeming features. No loss after he went off injured. 

12. Sam Stanton – 6 – Still our best player but was shoved out wide for some of the first half and then was forced to sit deep for most of the second.

11. Billy King – 4 – A typical performance from King, showed flashes of promise but offers nothing in other areas of the game.

8. Scott McDonald – 4 – Felt a little sorry for McDonald in the first half being isolated upfront with the giant Livi defenders surrounding him. Didn’t impact the game once we changed shape.

Subs – 7.Paul McMullan (3) – Brought on too late. 28.Matty Smith (6) – Best United player in the second half (and possibly over the course of the game). Really positive on the ball and showed good strength. 9.Thomas Mikkelsen (4) – To be fair to him he ran the channels quite well but still missing real quality in front of goal.

Man of the Match – Matty Smith. The youngster showed up the older pros by coming on and displayed determination and positivity on the ball. Deserves a run in the team ahead of some of his teammates. 

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Next Fixture – Two games at Tannadice next week and it could be a very, very difficult few days for the club. No doubt the attendances will dwindle and up first we have Queen of the South on Tuesday night. Fail to win that one and it could be embarrassing by the time we face St.Mirren on the Friday.

 

Match Preview – Livingston vs Dundee United

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King.

When is hope a bad thing? When Dundee United are involved. The St.Mirren scoreline from last Saturday has at least managed to stir up a little bit of interest in a season that looked like ending in inevitable disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, it probably still will, but it does make the next 3 games a bit more interesting.

Part of me has really enjoyed the relaxed last couple of weekends without league football to worry about but Dundee United now have three games in a week starting with the visit to Livingston on Friday. We play Queen of the South next Tuesday and then St.Mirren in an all or nothing game at Tannadice live on BT Sport. By the time we face the Buddies it could be either a case of a miracle being possible or it could provide the final nail in the title coffin. The other added intrigue to this mix is that Livingston themselves will have genuine hope of having a say in this title race. They come in to Friday’s game in great form and will be very confident of taking points from United. Their fantastic result against St.Mirren proves that they are a genuinely good team who work incredibly hard for one another and are very difficult to beat. The Livingston side are the complete opposite to the United one in that they are strong, physical, well organised and know how to grind out results.

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We are all hoping that a break from league duties has revitalised Csaba Laszlo’s squad. Additional work on the training ground has eased some injury worries which means we at least have more flexibility in the team selection. Now is the time for United to step up to the plate and have a right good go. You would hope that they must be able to motivate themselves for this incredibly important run of fixtures.

The squad news is, as I mentioned, a little bit more positive and we should see the return of either Paul Quinn, Tam Scobbie or William Edjenguele. There may also be a place in the squad for Jordie Briels but the likelihood is that the game on Friday probably comes a little too soon for him. Personally I would like to see one or two changes and maybe a change of shape but Csaba Laszlo may disagree! I think that Harry Lewis needs a rest and that we should be giving Deniz Mehmet an opportunity. Hopefully Tam Scobbie is fit enough to play because he is probably the best option we have to play alongside Mark Durnan. Ideally Grant Gillespie should be moved into central midfield and it would be good to start with two out-and-out strikers. With Livingston playing a more structured brand of football I wonder if we might start with two target men upfront in order to counter their physical presence.

My team against Livingston would be –

GK – Deniz Mehmet

 

RB – Stewart Murdoch

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

LB – Jamie Robson

 

RM – Paul McMullan

CM – Grant Gillespie

CM – Sam Stanton

LM – Billy King

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

ST – Scott McDonald

 

Subs – Harry Lewis, Cammy Ballantyne, Willo Flood, Craig Slater, Paul Quinn, Emil Lyng, Matty Smith.

Key Player – Scott McDonald  I’ve been very critical of McDonald and I still don’t really trust him. There have been some rumours of a falling out between the management and the veteran striker so maybe Friday is an opportunity for him to prove his worth. He can still be a match winner on his day.

A Badge of Honour? Part Two

I know what you are thinking, “was there even a ‘Part One’?” Yes. Yes there was. Just like all good multi-part blog posts I have waited three and a half years to write a follow-up to this much-loved original (you’ll just have to take my word on the “much-loved” bit).

If you were a fan of the original post then you will know that I took 10 awful/bizarre football club badges and presented them to you for judgement. This delayed second post will follow pretty much the same format (but there will only be 6 because I don’t have the time to find 10).

Warriors FC (Singapore)

What do you mean you have never heard of the most successful club in the Singaporean S.League? You may have heard of them but under their old name (you probably haven’t heard of them). Until 2003 ‘Warriors’ were known as Singapore Armed Forces Football Club but then the league association decided that they would force every side to adopt an animal as a mascot and they rejected the SAFFC proposal to have a warrior instead of a random animal. This then left the club with this ridiculous badge…

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Limon FC (Costa Rica)

Part of me thinks that having a tornado as a club logo isn’t the worst idea in the world. That part of me is wrong. Despite being an actual top flight side in Costa Rica it is incredible that anyone, anywhere thought that this lime green monstrosity was a good idea. The tornado itself is bizarre (with his tiny arms adding an extra dimension) but the whole crest is just plain awful.

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SexyPöxyt (Finland)

Supporting a side in the Finnish 4th tier is, I’d imagine, a pretty hard slog. Things would be made even more difficult if you had to explain to people that the team you follow, in this case SexyPöxyt, are named after underwear. If you are wondering what the word ‘Pöxyt’ actually means it is ‘Pants’. The team are literally called ‘Sexy Pants’. Their logo? Could it be anything else…

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FC Show (Norway)

This next logo is FABULOUS. Nothing screams football more than a waiter decked out in pink holding a football on his serving tray. To be fair FC Show sound like they are  actually a pretty well run club who raise a lot of money for charity (the FC Show wet t-shirt car wash being a particular success, check Wikipedia out if you don’t believe me).

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AS Marsa (Tunisia)

I don’t like camels. I also don’t like badly drawn animals. When you combine the two, add a terrible colour scheme and try to design a football logo then the result is always going to be a bit rubbish. The Tunisian top flight side really need to have a rethink here…

avenir_badge

 

Bohemians Praha 1905 (Czech Republic)

The story behind this logo is pretty interesting. Back in 1927 AFK Vršovice of Prague took part in a tour of Australia. At the end of the tour they were given two kangaroos and they were donated to the Prague Zoo. Also during the tour the team had adopted the name ‘Bohemians’ to signify the region they were from in the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia back then). they decided to stick with the name and also decided to honour the kangaroos by having one on their new badge.

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Match Review – Aberdeen vs Dundee United – 11/02/18

One central defender in the entire match day squad. One. When United announced the team for today’s game against Aberdeen you could audibly hear the scratching of heads from all of the supporters who had started to try to figure out just exactly what kind of formation we were going to start with. Nobody gave United the slightest of chances before this team was announced. Now? Is it possible to have less than no confidence?

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I always remember when I was younger that when we played Celtic or Rangers at Tannadice I would always be absolutely petrified every time they got the ball because I assumed that they would score. That feeling returned today as I looked at the Aberdeen squad and realised that it was the biggest gulf between the two teams that I can remember. I’ve generally never not looked forward to watching my team but today really, really tested that.

When the teams did emerge it ended up being Stewart Murdoch in the middle of the defence alongside Mark Durnan. Recent signing Grant Gillespie was at right-back with the rest of the squad in their familiar positions. Matty Smith, a surprise starter, was deployed out wide with Emil Lyng the lone striker.

To be fair to United the opening period of the game was as reasonable as we could have hoped for. We were never going to be able to venture too far forward but defensively the team did a pretty good job despite only having 30% possession. The hard work was undone by a sloppy goal and after that it looked like United were going to crumble as we really struggled to get a foothold in the game. With the defence looking weak and the poor positioning of makeshift defenders Murdoch and Gillespie it was no surprise that Aberdeen turned the screw and after half an hour it looked like United were on to the much expected hiding. Amazingly though we actually did score a goal! Sam Stanton’s excellent break and finish at least gave us something to cheer. Aberdeen scoring 30 seconds later restored normal service.

The second half was a case of going through the motions for Aberdeen and they never really had to work too hard despite United scoring a good second goal through McMullan. United did grow in confidence as the game went on but it was never going to be enough to turn over the deficit. Aberdeen could have and should have added more goals but they became sloppy and lazy with the ball, making us look better than we probably were.

It really is a terrible time to be a United fan. Watching the game today you can’t help but look back to just a few years ago when we would have been able to compete against an Aberdeen team. Now it is incredible just how far apart we are. The Dons could have scored as many as they would have wanted today and we made the whole thing so easy for them. A short period of positivity towards the end of the game is not enough to hide the fact that we are a very poor side.

Dundee United Player Ratings – 

25. Harry Lewis – 3 – After his loan spell at United I would imagine that for the next two seasons he will be playing on loan for various English League Two sides and then his contract will expire at Southampton. He isn’t very good.

4. Grant Gillespie – 4 – Felt sorry for the new signing. He is a midfielder and although he has been used as a right-back at Hamilton he was hung out to dry today playing alongside Murdoch.

4. Mark Durnan – 5 – Poor performance from someone we have relied upon this season. Probably didn’t help that he was part of a terribly makeshift defence.

2. Stewart Murdoch – 4 – Rubbish. He is never a central defender and looked totally uncomfortable for 90 minutes.

17. Jamie Robson – 3 – If he wasn’t left-footed he would never have been given so much of a chance to play at United. Weak, hesitant and unreliable. 

16. Willo Flood – 5 – Ran about a lot but never did anything of note. Gave away possession far too often.

15. Craig Slater – 3 – Really have not seen anything from Slater since he signed for the club. Terrible in possession and incredibly slow with the ball at his feet.

28. Matty Smith – 5 – Fair play to Smith he did a reasonable job on the right hand side and he put himself about.

12. Sam Stanton – 6 – United’s best player and someone who is maybe beginning to regret signing a new two-year deal to stay at the club. He should be playing top-flight football.

11. Billy King – 5 – Tried to show for the ball in the first-half, went missing in the second until his assist for McMullan. Had no service to work with.

58. Emil Lyng – 4 – Feel sorry for a player being so isolated. Hardly had a touch of the ball.

Subs – 7.Paul McMullan (5) – Took his goal really well. 8.Scott McDonald (2) – Did nothing. 9.Thomas Mikkelsen (1) – Did less than nothing.

Man of the Match – Sam Stanton. He is the best player we have at the moment. His box-to-box ability and his fitness mean that he is always involved and seems to cover more yardage than most of the team put together. 

Next Fixture – We have another break of nearly two weeks before we face Livingston away. They actually have two games between now and then so could quite feasibly be ahead of us by a few points by the time we meet. With the league pretty much gone it is imperative we try to secure 2nd. A win at the Toni Macaroni would go a long way to help that.

 

Match Preview – Aberdeen vs Dundee United – Scottish Cup Fifth Round

It has been a strange last ten days or so. With the Inverness game postponed and no league game until the 23rd of February there doesn’t seem to be much to talk about at the moment. The news of Stephen Thompson’s summer exit has petered out and the social media chat seems to have dried up for the time being. It has probably something to do with the fact that on Sunday we face Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup and even the most hardened of United fan would admit that it is going be pretty grim viewing.

One thing that the game on Sunday does do is remind us all of just how far United have fallen in the last few seasons. If this was played in 2014/15 then the fever of the cup would have taken hold and we would be looking at a huge travelling support going to Pittodrie with great confidence. Now? It is pretty embarrassing just how far apart the two teams are and any fan that travels up north deserves a medal.

Many supporters will actually pinpoint the last cup-tie between the two sides as being the last truly positive match involving Dundee United. On the 31st of January 2015 we beat Aberdeen 2-1 at Hampden in the League Cup semi-final. We also fell behind in that match making Nadir Ciftci’s 84th minute winner even more memorable. It was a fantastic match with a fantastic atmosphere but, unbeknown to us, it signalled the start of things falling apart.

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The build-up to Sunday’s match has been pretty low-key and has only had one notable moment. Csaba Laszlo has been quoted today as saying that Aberdeen have had a pretty easy ride of it in the last few seasons and the reason for this is down to Dundee United being in the Championship. It seems to have upset some Aberdeen fans (and some United supporters too) but to be fair to Csaba I think he referred to the fact that Hibs, Hearts and Rangers have also been pretty poor in recent years so in that respect maybe Aberdeen have been able to get a firm grip on the league.

As for team news it was announced earlier today that James Keatings will be having surgery for his current injury but other than that there are no new casualties to worry about for Sunday (Tam Scobbie will still be missing despite his progress). My advice normally would be put out a weakened team in the cup as the league is the priority but given we have managed to pretty much throw away the league and we are playing Aberdeen live on TV we should probably try our best to win this. We are also helped with the players hopefully feeling reasonably fresh given they didn’t have a game at the weekend.

My team against Aberdeen would be –

GK – Harry Lewis

 

RB – Stewart Murdoch

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Paul Quinn

LB – Jamie Robson

 

CM – Grant Gillespie

CM – Craig Slater

 

RM – Paul McMullan

CAM – Sam Stanton

LM –  Billy King

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

 

Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Brandon Mason, Willo Flood, Logan Chalmers, Scott McDonald, Emil Lyng, Idris Kadded

Key Players – Everyone – Please don’t let the fans down and at least put in a good performance. We all know that there is a huge gulf in class between the teams at present but the supporters deserve to see a team that is at least willing to fight for everything and make it as difficult as possible for Aberdeen.

Match Preview – Inverness Caledonian Thistle vs Dundee United

Another easy week at Tannadice….

Where shall we begin? First of all there was the most abject of abject performances against Greenock Morton. This was immediately followed by the manager and the first team spending nearly two hours in the changing room after the match. Since the weekend the players and manager have revealed that they had a bit of a ‘Q&A’ amongst themselves with Csaba Laszlo asking the squad to come up with some suggestions as to how to improve the team’s fortunes. I hope that hunger, desire and commitment were on the suggestion list. The big announcement yesterday was the news that Stephen Thompson is to resign as Chairman at the end of the season. The crucial point in this however is that he will remain as majority shareholder along with Mike Martin. The long-term effect of this is unclear at the moment but in terms of being the figurehead for the club Stephen Thompson’s days are numbered. Today, even more bizarrely, the club have been linked with some kind of tie-in with a club in the new 3rd tier of American ‘soccer’. Within all of this we also signed someone! Midfielder Grant Gillespie has joined under freedom of contract having left Hamilton.

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Moving on to the match on Saturday we surely, surely must see some sort of reaction from the United team. Our away record points to the fact that we might not get this and this is also complicated by the fact that Inverness are actually pretty decent at the moment and will be keen to repeat the victory they achieved in October. Our title hopes have all but been extinguished but the team must now focus on ensuring that at the very least we hold on to our 2nd position and if, by some miracle, St.Mirren start dropping points then at least we are keeping in touch with top spot.

Not a huge amount of team news for Saturday but it looks like Tam Scobbie is back and Paul McMullan will return to the team after his suspension. New signing Grant Gillespie should go straight into the squad after declaring himself match-fit. The only other changes may be as a result of Laszlo making alterations due to the abysmal performance against Morton. He doesn’t have a huge opportunity to rotate but we might see two or three changes.

My team against Inverness would be –

GK – Harry Lewis

 

RB – Stewart Murdoch

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

LB – Brandon Mason

 

CM – Grant Gillespie

CM – Craig Slater

 

RM – Paul McMullan

CAM – Sam Stanton

LM –  Billy King

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

 

Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Jamie Robson, Willo Flood, Logan Chalmers, Scott McDonald, Emil Lyng, Idris Kadded.

Key Player – Paul McMullan – After a couple of weeks out of the team it is important that McMullan turns in a performance to show that he deserves to be in the team. He can provide a huge amount of creativity going forward and the team are desperate for more goals.