Review of last season – I think most Dundee United fans will look back at Jackie McNamara’s first full season in charge and will be very pleased with the progress made at the club. A fourth place finish and a cup final appearance can be deemed a success for United. McNamara’s team played some wonderful football last year especially in the first half of the season and although things did tail off a bit in the second half of the campaign it was a young, exciting United team on show. Individual performers like Stuart Armstrong, Ryan Gauld, Andy Robertson, Gary Mackay-Steven and Nadir Ciftci ensured United fans were kept entertained over the course of the campaign. The season did end on a low note with a Scottish Cup final defeat to St.Johnstone but the season overall was a very positive one for Dundee United.
Players in – Jaroslaw Fojut (Defender, Tromso), Callum Morris (Defender, Dunfermline Athletic), Charlie Telfer (Midfielder, Rangers), Blair Spittal (Midfielder, Queen’s Park)
Players out – Ryan Gauld (Sporting Lisbon, £3m), Gavin Gunning (Birmingham City), Morgaro Gomis (Hearts), Dale Hilson (Forfar Athletic), Mark Millar (Free) Ross Gilmour (Free), Jordan Allan (Free), Mark Russell (Free), Phil Anderson (Free), Luke Johnston (Free), Farid El Alagui (End of Loan)
What they still need – Much depends on the future of Andy Robertson. Left-back is a position that will be virtually empty if he does make a move away from the club, something that is looking increasingly likely. There would be a need to replace him as a priority if he leaves. Other than that the squad is fairly balanced and has depth but one position does need strengthened. Striker wise United only really have one recognised natural forward in the shape of Brian Graham. Yes Nadir Ciftci can play there but many fans prefer to see him attack from midfield so getting another striker is something that would benefit the squad.
Expectations this season – Despite losing a number of players the United squad looks as strong, if not potentially stronger than last season. McNamara has strengthened the weak United defence so fans will be expecting the team to concede far fewer goals than they did last season. United’s attacking prowess was very impressive last term but their defence looked very, very poor at times. The fans will be expecting an improvement on 4th place and possibly a cup win to make up for the disappointment in the cup final against St.Johnstone. Just like McInnes at Aberdeen this will be a second full season in charge for Jackie McNamara so more pressure will be on him to succeed.
Key player – There is one player in this United team that can influence a game more than many others. If he is on form then Stuart Armstrong is one of the best midfielders in the country. He is an intelligent footballer with great technique and strong physical attributes. He is potentially the most well-rounded of all of United’s young players and it is possible that this coming season will be his last for the club. Unfortunately his form can be a bit erratic but much of this last season was down to him being played in positions he was not entirely confident in. As a central attacking midfielder he is a force to be reckoned with and can make the difference for United this year.
Young player to look out for – Tannadice has been home to many successful young players over the past few years. Dundee United have given opportunities to their young stars and it has paid off. This was no more evident than in Ryan Gauld’s recent £3million move to Sporting Lisbon which is a great achievement for United as a club but also a great move for Scottish football in general. As for the current squad there are a few more youngsters expected to make an impact this season. One in particular that everyone is keen to see is a player that has made a move to United in circumstances slightly different to what most Scottish football fans are used to. Charlie Telfer is a young player that has reversed a general trend in Scotland. Having spent many years at Rangers he moved to Dundee United at the end of his contract. He has said he feels like United are a club that can give him the opportunity to develop and show his talents so he will be keen to justify his move this season. Fans have been told about his excellent potential and will look forward to seeing the teenage playmaker in action.
Opinion on Dundee United – United have bought well over the summer. They have added players in the right areas and have added much-needed defensive cover. Many players in this young squad have a season of experience on their shoulders so they should be looking to kick on this season and push for a higher league place. A few teams in the league look much weaker than last term but along with Aberdeen, Celtic and St.Johnstone the squad United have is looking settled which will help them. Holding on to Andy Robertson is a massive challenge for the club and if they can keep him for another season it would make a huge difference to United.
Prediction for this season – 3rd