Anyone remember the 2nd of January? That was the day we won against Brechin. It was also our last league victory. Tonight’s game against Livingston was very much a case of last chance saloon. We faced a team who have shown everyone that with a decent team spirit and a huge amount of determination you can achieve great things. Livingston are basically what Dundee United look like in an alternate universe.
I travelled through to the game utterly convinced that we would at least see something different. A different shape to our team, a different approach to our play and maybe even a different attitude. More fool me. It was apparent that even just a few minutes into the game that we had reverted to type and that our rigid 4231 with Scott McDonald as the lone striker was again going to show everyone that we are indeed a team without any real identity. We don’t have the personnel to play any kind of football that has any real purpose. Long ball? We have a team full of midgets with one or two ‘physical’ players with no presence. Neat and intricate football? We don’t have the players good enough to pull that off. When things do then invariably fall apart we are left with a group of individuals who after the first Livingston goal all started pointing at each other as if nobody knew exactly who was doing what.
Csaba Laszlo has inherited a poor squad. He has also signed some poor players. The role of Darren Taylor in all of this has to be questioned but it is clear that this group are simply not good enough to navigate their way out of the championship. What is also now beginning to show is Laszlo’s own frailties as manager of this group of players.
Tonight was, in many ways, the perfect game to highlight the differences between what happens when a club starts to get things right and a club that is now stuck in a spiral of poor decisions and one that has a poisonous atmosphere surrounding it. Yes we played pretty well for a 20 minute spell in the second half, yes we were moments away from a point (and close to snatching all three) but to be honest did we deserve anything out of the game? Probably not. Livingston were a better team and the word ‘team’ is the absolute factor in all of this. We are not a team at the moment and we are miles away from resembling one.
Weeks ago it was a case of trying to work out exactly what had to happen and when for us to win the league. Now? I can’t be the only one looking at what we need to even scrape a playoff spot?
Dundee United Player Ratings –
25. Harry Lewis – 4 – Needed to be dropped for tonight’s game and wasn’t. He is a young goalkeeper having a confidence crisis and the manager needs to protect him by moving him aside for the time being.
2. Stewart Murdoch – 4 – Showed a bit of determination in the second half but still major flaws in his game defensively. Could have won the game for United at the death.
4. Mark Durnan – 4 – I’ve been a defender of Durnan and he was important in the first half but faded badly in the second. At fault for the the winner?
3. Tam Scobbie – 4 – On paper he makes the defence much more balanced but he is missing a yard of pace and isn’t sharp enough at the moment.
17. Jamie Robson – 3 – Should not be in the team and even if Brandon Mason isn’t up to much it is time to give Robson some time on the bench.
16. Willo Flood – 5 – He obviously cares and he does his running about the pitch routine to prove it but he isn’t dominant enough to impact on games in the way he should be.
24. Grant Gillespie – 3 – Very disappointing from someone who should have been out to impress in his first game in his preferred position. Poor.
58. Emil Lyng – 2 – I’m always keen to give players a chance but he definitely does not have any real redeeming features. No loss after he went off injured.
12. Sam Stanton – 6 – Still our best player but was shoved out wide for some of the first half and then was forced to sit deep for most of the second.
11. Billy King – 4 – A typical performance from King, showed flashes of promise but offers nothing in other areas of the game.
8. Scott McDonald – 4 – Felt a little sorry for McDonald in the first half being isolated upfront with the giant Livi defenders surrounding him. Didn’t impact the game once we changed shape.
Subs – 7.Paul McMullan (3) – Brought on too late. 28.Matty Smith (6) – Best United player in the second half (and possibly over the course of the game). Really positive on the ball and showed good strength. 9.Thomas Mikkelsen (4) – To be fair to him he ran the channels quite well but still missing real quality in front of goal.
Man of the Match – Matty Smith. The youngster showed up the older pros by coming on and displayed determination and positivity on the ball. Deserves a run in the team ahead of some of his teammates.
Next Fixture – Two games at Tannadice next week and it could be a very, very difficult few days for the club. No doubt the attendances will dwindle and up first we have Queen of the South on Tuesday night. Fail to win that one and it could be embarrassing by the time we face St.Mirren on the Friday.