I don’t feel particularly well today so it is with great pleasure that I get to write a report card on a team that I don’t need to do any research for. It has definitely been an interesting few months at Tannadice and there is no doubt that it will all be fun and games as we head into January. As a club the board and the fans still ‘enjoy’ a fairly fractured relationship and it is safe to say that all is not well at Dundee United. There is still a constant pressure on the club’s chairman and the rumours about financial difficulties will not go away. On the park the expectation is simple, win the league. The club would require a massive restructuring if promotion is not achieved this year. That goal is now in the hands of Csaba Laszlo after Ray McKinnon was sacked earlier in the campaign. The decision was met with a general wave of acceptance from the fans because despite everyone actually quite liking McKinnon as a person he was probably out of his depth and his inexperience showed. With this season being so pivotel there really was no room for giving McKinnon any more time in charge. After a few weeks of interim boss Laurie Ellis the board decided that former Hearts manager Laszlo was the right man for the job.
So far things have worked out pretty well for the Hungarian and his style of football is now beginning to show. Performances have generally been good and there seems to be an actual plan for how Dundee United should approach each game. This unfortunately fell apart a little last night as St.Mirren won 2-0 in Paisley giving them the most important 3 points of the season so far. The challenge for Laszlo is to make the right moves in January as the squad badly needs three or four quality additions. One key injury to Fraser Fyvie and all of a sudden it is glaringly obvious that this squad is still very light in places.
January Wishlist – Ask a United fan two weeks ago it would have been a physical striker and a proper right back. Ask that same fan now and you can add holding midfielder and winger to that list as the threadbare nature of this United squad has been badly exposed due to injuries (Scott Fraser is now a potential injury doubt for the next few fixtures). The biggest priority is finding a replacement for the injured Fraser Fyvie and being able to find a reliable striker who can act as a target man. Another two or three on top of that would be ideal.
Player of the Season (so far) – Everyone in the United team has been a bit ‘meh’ so far this season. There are players like Mark Durnan, Harry Lewis and Scott McDonald who have always provided quite consistent performances but up until recently it was maybe quite difficult to pick one absolute standout. The most influential performer this season has probably been Fraser Fyvie. The reality now is that it is quite possible he has played his last game for the club with his contract up in the summer and his injury keeping him out for the rest of the season.
Predicted Finish – 1st. I feel a little guilty making this prediction after the loss to St.Mirren but the board at Tannadice are going to give Laszlo funds to spend and he is looking like the real deal in terms of being able to guide the club where they want to go. It will be tight but I think United will just about edge out St.Mirren.
Manager Grade – It isn’t possible to grade a manager after just a few games but the mood amongst the fans and the staff at Tannadice is much more positive than it has been in quite a long time. He reminds me of the last ‘CL’ United had as manager in that he is very meticulous, very tactically minded and very pragmatic (which is what the club needs).
Overall Grade – B. United are a strange side. On paper the squad is strong and the team are generally quite difficult to beat but they are guilty of not taking chances and losing points due to one-off poor performances and silly errors (the game in Paisley had both). There is a massive few months ahead for Dundee United and it is a period of time that could determine the long-term outlook for the club. So, no pressure Csaba…