On New Year’s Day I had hope that United would have some new signings in place for the game against Brechin. A part of me had also hoped that we would be told the news that half a dozen Hungarian superstars had arrived at Dundee Airport via Csaba Laszlo’s private jet. Alas, the only piece of ‘signing’ news for the game against Brechin was the return of Cammy Ballantyne from his successful loan spell with Montrose.
With Ballantyne back and our current injury list I had assumed that he would fill in at right-back for the injured Murdoch but instead the only change to the starting eleven was the inclusion of James Keatings for Scott Fraser.
The first thing I want to say about the match is just how quiet the stadium was. The crowd of 5532 was decent enough but there was little in the way of atmosphere (despite the impressive Brechin fans doing their best to drum up a bit of noise). It is something that we are now used to at Tannadice but the lack of atmosphere makes the whole experience a bit underwhelming at the moment. Maybe there were still a few Christmas and New Year hangovers and maybe the result against St.Mirren had taken the shine off things but the fans need to be more vocal as we try to push towards promotion.
The game itself was a pretty satisfying one for United fans with a dominant performance that in a strange way probably wasn’t helped with the early goals in each half. Scoring so soon in a game can sometimes mean things become quite flat and it certainly felt like that for a good 30 minutes in the first half and then again in the second. Despite dominating possession there were long spells where the final ball wasn’t good or the passing became very slow. When this United side are on top there is some really nice football on show but it still needs to be for longer spells. Laszlo was very critical in his post match interview about the lack of concentration and the lack of ability to keep the game flowing. With Falkirk and Dunfermline away in the next fortnight we will need to be better.
One big sour note from the game was the sending off for Paul McMullan. After being lazy in possession in the first half he tracked back to commit a stupid foul to get a yellow card. His second yellow was even more frustrating as he broke away in space before thinking that it was a good idea to dive (United were 4-0 up and cruising at the time). McMullan was rightfully given a hard time by the fans as he headed towards the tunnel (although bizarrely some still clapped him off the park). After the match Laszlo was scathing in his assessment of the situation McMullan found himself in, “I need a team who knows professional football. Professional; we are not kids. This is your job and you must use your head. I will handle this situation.”
Overall a win after the St.Mirren defeat was the priority and we got that. It was not the most slick performance in the world but it was professional enough and it got things going again. A worry for the game against Falkirk is the ever growing injury list so hopefully Mark Durnan is fit after going off and nobody else picked up any knocks. The final result was made all the sweeter with St.Mirren dropping two points against Morton.
Dundee United Player Ratings –
25. Harry Lewis – 6 – Didn’t have much to do but he did what he had to well and he has improved in his distribution.
3. Tam Scobbie – 5 – I feel sorry for him being stuck out on the right hand side. He is always awkward in possession and doesn’t offer much going forward.
4. Mark Durnan – 6 – Another reliable performance and a ridiculous mazy run (he should have been selfish and had a shot). Went off injured at half-time.
5. Paul Quinn – 6 – Got a great deal of stick after the St.Miren game for his passing ability but he does a good job as a no-nonsense defender.
17. Jamie Robson – 7 – He has been very impressive since Laszlo’s arrival and enjoys the overlapping he is now being asked to do.
7. Paul McMullan – 3 – Lazy in possession, poor final ball and a couple of moments of madness resulting in a red card. A day to forget.
12. Sam Stanton – 8 – At the heart of everything good about United today. Worked incredibly hard for the team and his box-to-box energy gives the team a different dimension.
16. Willo Flood – 7 – Managed to annoy the Brechin fans early on with some tough tackling. Did his usual job well today before being rested on the 55th minute. This side are much better with him involved.
11. Billy King – 8 – In terms of going forward he probably saw most of the ball today. Made some great runs down the line and cutting inside, unlucky to not score.
19. James Keatings – 7 – Big game for him today. Hasn’t been anywhere near the signing we thought he was going to be. Had some great deliveries and worked hard. He deserved to take his penalty and get a goal.
8. Scott McDonald – 7 – Such an experienced player and it showed today. Made some great runs and although his passing was not perfect today he showed his worth with the two goals.
Subs – 26. Cammy Ballantyne (5) – Did pretty well, got an assist and offered the overlap well. Not as assured defensively. 18. Scott Allardice (2) – Really not showing anything so far this season and he looked well off the pace today. 28. Matty Smith (2) – Offered little going forward and outmuscled easily.
Man of the Match – Sam Stanton. I really like Stanton when he is on form. He has a huge amount of energy and offers so much going forward but also prepared to track back. A key player now that Fyvie and Fraser are out long term.
Next Fixture – Falkirk Away – 6th December. A tough away trip to a Falkirk team that will have a few more new faces in their ranks. Will we?