One central defender in the entire match day squad. One. When United announced the team for today’s game against Aberdeen you could audibly hear the scratching of heads from all of the supporters who had started to try to figure out just exactly what kind of formation we were going to start with. Nobody gave United the slightest of chances before this team was announced. Now? Is it possible to have less than no confidence?
I always remember when I was younger that when we played Celtic or Rangers at Tannadice I would always be absolutely petrified every time they got the ball because I assumed that they would score. That feeling returned today as I looked at the Aberdeen squad and realised that it was the biggest gulf between the two teams that I can remember. I’ve generally never not looked forward to watching my team but today really, really tested that.
When the teams did emerge it ended up being Stewart Murdoch in the middle of the defence alongside Mark Durnan. Recent signing Grant Gillespie was at right-back with the rest of the squad in their familiar positions. Matty Smith, a surprise starter, was deployed out wide with Emil Lyng the lone striker.
To be fair to United the opening period of the game was as reasonable as we could have hoped for. We were never going to be able to venture too far forward but defensively the team did a pretty good job despite only having 30% possession. The hard work was undone by a sloppy goal and after that it looked like United were going to crumble as we really struggled to get a foothold in the game. With the defence looking weak and the poor positioning of makeshift defenders Murdoch and Gillespie it was no surprise that Aberdeen turned the screw and after half an hour it looked like United were on to the much expected hiding. Amazingly though we actually did score a goal! Sam Stanton’s excellent break and finish at least gave us something to cheer. Aberdeen scoring 30 seconds later restored normal service.
The second half was a case of going through the motions for Aberdeen and they never really had to work too hard despite United scoring a good second goal through McMullan. United did grow in confidence as the game went on but it was never going to be enough to turn over the deficit. Aberdeen could have and should have added more goals but they became sloppy and lazy with the ball, making us look better than we probably were.
It really is a terrible time to be a United fan. Watching the game today you can’t help but look back to just a few years ago when we would have been able to compete against an Aberdeen team. Now it is incredible just how far apart we are. The Dons could have scored as many as they would have wanted today and we made the whole thing so easy for them. A short period of positivity towards the end of the game is not enough to hide the fact that we are a very poor side.
Dundee United Player Ratings –
25. Harry Lewis – 3 – After his loan spell at United I would imagine that for the next two seasons he will be playing on loan for various English League Two sides and then his contract will expire at Southampton. He isn’t very good.
4. Grant Gillespie – 4 – Felt sorry for the new signing. He is a midfielder and although he has been used as a right-back at Hamilton he was hung out to dry today playing alongside Murdoch.
4. Mark Durnan – 5 – Poor performance from someone we have relied upon this season. Probably didn’t help that he was part of a terribly makeshift defence.
2. Stewart Murdoch – 4 – Rubbish. He is never a central defender and looked totally uncomfortable for 90 minutes.
17. Jamie Robson – 3 – If he wasn’t left-footed he would never have been given so much of a chance to play at United. Weak, hesitant and unreliable.
16. Willo Flood – 5 – Ran about a lot but never did anything of note. Gave away possession far too often.
15. Craig Slater – 3 – Really have not seen anything from Slater since he signed for the club. Terrible in possession and incredibly slow with the ball at his feet.
28. Matty Smith – 5 – Fair play to Smith he did a reasonable job on the right hand side and he put himself about.
12. Sam Stanton – 6 – United’s best player and someone who is maybe beginning to regret signing a new two-year deal to stay at the club. He should be playing top-flight football.
11. Billy King – 5 – Tried to show for the ball in the first-half, went missing in the second until his assist for McMullan. Had no service to work with.
58. Emil Lyng – 4 – Feel sorry for a player being so isolated. Hardly had a touch of the ball.
Subs – 7.Paul McMullan (5) – Took his goal really well. 8.Scott McDonald (2) – Did nothing. 9.Thomas Mikkelsen (1) – Did less than nothing.
Man of the Match – Sam Stanton. He is the best player we have at the moment. His box-to-box ability and his fitness mean that he is always involved and seems to cover more yardage than most of the team put together.
Next Fixture – We have another break of nearly two weeks before we face Livingston away. They actually have two games between now and then so could quite feasibly be ahead of us by a few points by the time we meet. With the league pretty much gone it is imperative we try to secure 2nd. A win at the Toni Macaroni would go a long way to help that.