Normally the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup is quite exciting and intriguing. It gives you a break from league duty and it allows fans the opportunity to enjoy a day out without the normal league pressure. Unfortunately though, one by-product of the current situation at Dundee United is that cup football has become an unnecessary distraction and much of the enjoyment of these occasions has evaporated. Personally it is something I have found quite sad about the last couple of years given the recent track record of doing quite well in domestic cup competitions. Realistically when next might we see United in a quarter-final or semi-final let alone a final?
As for the Alloa game if United were flying high at the top of the Championship it would be easy for me to say that Csaba Laszlo should play his strongest side with the faint hope of a cup run to enhance our season. The reality though is that we are not good enough to go very far in the competition and to be honest we have other priorities. Laszlo should use Saturday’s trip to Recreation Park as a fitness exercise for those on the fringes and needing to prove a point. We need to ensure that some of our players are building on their fitness and we need to give games to players who have been waiting on the bench. It isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be trying to win the match but we should put out a side that looks a little different to the one we have been seeing recently.
A good win in the cup would at least put things on a positive spin for the home match against Morton a week on Saturday but there remains a cloud over the team at the moment and it is not going to be an easy few months as we head into the remaining league fixtures.
Personally a good shake up would be good for the squad so I would like to see Deniz Mehmet get a game over Harry Lewis. It has been a frustrating season for Deniz who probably thought he might have been given a more prominent role in the squad. He played quite well in the Irn-Bru Cup so I wouldn’t be against him playing against Alloa.
Ahead of him I would like to see Brandon Mason get 90 minutes if he is fit. The young fullback needs a bit of a confidence boost after his horror show against Falkirk. Rumours of him heading back to Watford seem to be a little off the mark but he apparently was down south for some physio so he may not be quite fully fit for Saturday. Another young defender, Cammy Ballantyne should also be getting a run out here. This game would be perfect for the returning defender to prove to Laszlo that he can provide real competition to the right-back slot (he is also pretty much the only natural right-back we have).
In the forward areas I wouldn’t be against Matty Smith or Logan Chalmers getting a shot and it would also make sense to give another 90 minutes to Emil Lyng to build on his match fitness. Resting the likes of Scott McDonald, Billy King and Willo Flood would be a good idea.
My team would be –
GK – Deniz Mehmet
RB – Cammy Ballantyne
CB – Mark Durnan
CB – Tam Scobbie
LB – Brandon Mason
CM – Craig Slater
CM – Sam Stanton
RM – Matty Smith
CAM – Logan Chalmers
LM – Paul McMullan
ST – Emil Lyng
Subs – Harry Lewis, Jamie Robson, Paul Quinn, Willo Flood, Louis Appere, Scott McDonald, Billy King.
Key Player – Emil Lyng – Second week in a row as ‘key player’ for the big striker. A great opportunity for him to get off the mark and hopefully put in a good performance. He showed flashes against Dunfermline so will be looking to grow in confidence against Alloa.
A good performance and win will at least settle a few nerves (especially amongst those fans who have travelled in huge numbers over the last few weeks). It is however the case that as soon as the full-time whistle goes on Saturday then the real hard work begins as we look ahead to the 15 remaining league games.