There is little doubt that United fans will be approaching Saturday’s game against Dunfermline with some anger still to subside after the 6-1 thrashing against Falkirk. It was one of the worst performances in living memory and will take a long time to get over. One group of people who do need to move on, and quickly, are the players. Much has been said in the last few days with players publicly apologising in the newspapers, on ArabZone and on their social media platforms. Talk is cheap though and the only comfort for United fans will be a good result and a strong performance.
The fact that our next opponents are Dunfermline could act as a blessing or a curse. We actually have a strong record against the Pars but we must be wary of the fact that they will have seen last week’s result and fancy their chances. They are on a good run of form and one thing Dunfermline can do is score goals so it will be vitally important that the defensive errors that were there for all to see at the weekend are cut out. You would hope that despite a persistent injury Mark Durnan would be back in the starting eleven and, for me, Cammy Ballantyne deserves an opportunity at right-back (assuming Stewart Murdoch is still injured). It was the wrong call by Laszlo to expose Jamie Robson on his weaker side against Falkirk. He really struggled but so did Brandon Mason. He had a nervy 90 minutes and looked every bit the inexperienced defender on the left hand side. Those two had really poor games but they were not helped by the experienced central defenders also showing major weaknesses that the Falkirk players exploited far too easily.
In the deeper midfield positions we are limited with options but for me the two sitting players should be Sam Stanton and Craig Slater. I feel a little sorry for Willo Flood but his performances against Falkirk and St.Mirren, both away from home, were well below what is expected from him. The Dunfermline central midfield is arguably one of their weaker areas so if Stanton and Slater can dominate then we could gain control of the game.
That leaves the forward area. Nobody came out of the Falkirk game with any credit but again we are a little bit short on numbers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a reshuffle but lack of bodies means that we are limited. James Keatings (who may be injured again) was totally anonymous last Saturday and for me it would be an easy decision to relegate him to the bench if others are available. There seems to be a little bit of confusion surrounding Paul McMullan’s two game suspension with some newspapers claiming he is banned but others saying that his second game is in fact next week. If he is available he should play instead of Keatings. The same selection dilemma is a bit more difficult when it comes to Scott McDonald. I think the veteran forward has some big attitude issues when things are not going his way and his body language against Falkirk was atrocious. He is, however, our top scorer and can be a game changer in terms of his finishing and awareness. I would probably go with a three of McMullan, McDonald and Keatings in behind our new striker Emil Lyng. The giant Dane didn’t really get a sniff during his brief cameo in the last game so he should be given the opportunity to lead the line against Dunfermline.
My team would be –
GK – Harry Lewis
RB – Cammy Ballantyne
CB – Mark Durnan
CB – Tam Scobbie
LB – Jamie Robson
CM – Craig Slater
CM – Sam Stanton
RM – Billy King
CAM – Scott McDonald
LM – James Keatings/Paul McMullan
ST – Emil Lyng
Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Brandon Mason, Paul Quinn, Willo Flood, Logan Chalmers, Matty Smith, Scott Allardice.
Key Player – Emil Lyng – A massive opportunity for the new striker to become the main man for United. We have been guilty of not taking chances this season so if he can get off the mark on Saturday then he could be the man to make a difference over the next few months.
This Saturday the team need to put on a performance for the large travelling support. We normally take good numbers through to East End Park and this would be the perfect opportunity to show them that the team are still in the fight for the title. If we end up losing or dropping points then it could be last chance saloon if St.Mirren carry on winning. They play Dumbarton away and their lead at the top could be extended to nine points if we lose against Dunfermline.