In normal circumstances a result like last week’s 6-1 humiliation against Falkirk may have resulted in me boycotting the next away game as a form of protest but unfortunately Steak Bridies exist in this world and I cannot say no to an East End Park Steak Bridie (or two). The reality though is that, despite saying this every week, the Dunfermline game became the most important of the season far. If we won and won well then the season looked like getting back on track. Lose, and hear the news that St.Mirren had won away at Dumbarton then it looks like things are getting to stage where it is done and dusted. Another season in the Championship would be a disaster for the club so it really is all or nothing right now.
The paper talk all week was quite bullish from Csaba Laszlo. Shouts of “we are Dundee United” and the claim that even Celtic wouldn’t put 6 past his side have meant that the build-up to the game has been quite intriguing. Before the Dunfermline fixture Laszlo stated, “As a player I don’t remember we lost like this ever and on the field I tried to keep the stability in my team. As a manager I don’t lose like this with six goals. It was like a nightmare, but this was reality, not a nightmare.”
In an ideal world fans would have liked to have seen Laszlo ring the changes but the reality is we don’t have the squad capable of it and Laszlo himself said, “If you have the possibility for change, maybe you change but I want the people back in charge,”.
Hopefully my Steak Bridies are not the only good thing to come out of the visit to East End Park…
So, the big question on everybody’s lips, “would United give us a reaction after last week?”
The answer? No.
From the first minute the United team seemed happy for the ball to be played across the back four and happy for play to be built up incredibly slowly. Dunfermline coped with this very easily and it resulted in a very poor 90 minutes from Csaba Laszlo’s team. The reality is that without Scott Fraser and Fraser Fyvie the team seems to have lost a bit of spark. There is very little going forward and no real control in the middle of the park. Today’s performance felt just as deflating as last week. I was genuinely looking forward to this afternoon because I assumed that it would be a United side full of fight and aggression. Sadly it was a fairly insipid performance, made all the worse with the result from Dumbarton. We are now 8 points behind St.Mirren and the title race is officially out of our own hands. In the space of three weeks we have gone from being in control to being cut adrift and hoping for other results to go our way. We of course have a game in hand and a home fixture against St.Mirren in March but we don’t look like title winners at present.
The team today should have had enough to beat Dunfermline but the manner in which we went about our business meant that it was all too easy for the Pars. Things could have been even worse if the home side had managed to finish one of the three or four good chances they had in the last fifteen minutes. It felt like, to me, that we were almost playing for the point in the end. It might have been nerves after last week but to be honest it should have been a performance of attacking intent, not one that resulted in incredibly safe and predictable football.
Dundee United Player Ratings –
25. Harry Lewis – 5 – Guilty of incredibly poor distribution. Didn’t have a huge amount to do apart from making three very good saves, two of which came directly from his own mistakes.
4. Mark Durnan – 7 – It says a great deal about a performance when you feel that one of your central defenders was the best player in the side. He made some very important interceptions and kept things together at the back.
3. Tam Scobbie – 4 – Another really poor performance from Scobbie who made a number of bad judgement calls at the back and was caught for pace on a few occasions.
16. Willo Flood – 6 – Did a reasonable job at right-back and came to the rescue a few times. Didn’t get forward too often.
17. Jamie Robson – 6 – Much more comfortable on the left hand side. Like Flood he didn’t get forward to often and he had to make up for Scobbie’s mistakes on a few occasions.
15. Craig Slater – 6 – Grew in to the game as it went on and looks like a decent enough player. Didn’t stamp enough authority on to the game .
12. Sam Stanton – 6 – Similar to Slater. Did okay but did not do enough on the ball and didn’t manage to get the better of the Dunfermline midfield.
7. Paul McMullan – 6 – Credit to McMullan for putting in a real shift. He hassled and harried but his final ball, as always, was lacking. He missed a good chance towards the end of the game.
11. Billy King – 5 – Completely out of the game in the first half and only really saw the ball on a few occasions during the second 45. Flashes of positivity but not enough.
58. Emil Lyng – 5 – Looks a decent enough handful but let down badly by the supply in to his feet or the lack of crosses into the box.
8. Scott McDonald – 4 – For me it was another really poor performance from someone who did plenty of talking during the week. His decision-making in particular was very, very poor.
Subs – 5. Paul Quinn (2) You must assume Stanton was injured otherwise it was a very strange decision to bring Quinn on. He did very little as a central midfielder.
Man of the Match – For me it was Mark Durnan. It shouldn’t be the case that a central defender becomes your key man but the reality is we relied on him to bail us out on several occasions today.
Next Fixture – The league takes a break as we travel to play Alloa in the Scottish Cup. If we were flying high at the top of the table I would say play your strongest team but to be honest it should be used to field some fringe players and work on fitness for those lacking it. Laszlo has a lot of work ahead of him over the next fortnight, and hopefully a couple of new signings might be on the horizon.