Should football be enjoyed or endured? The more I think about that question the more I think it is the latter. On Saturday, in the bitterly cold weather, we yet again witnessed an insipid Dundee United performance and one that can be added to a very long and growing list. The club is planning on releasing the season ticket packages tomorrow but to be honest they would be best holding off for a bit given the ‘entertainment’ served up on the park. It is becoming harder and harder to justify spending time and money watching a team that you know will fail you more often than not. It isn’t that fans expect their team to be brilliant every week and nobody expects free-flowing, dynamic football but the absolute basics are posted missing every week. No fight, no energy, no desire. On Saturday we made an average Inverness side look comfortable and fluid on the ball. If they had decent strikers then we could have easily been 3 or 4 down at half-time. The second 45 did see us muster a bit of enthusiasm from somewhere but it was another performance that fell way, way short. There is no ’cause’ to fight for at the moment. We don’t have a feeling of unity amongst the players and unlike a Livingston or St.Mirren there is no sense of togetherness about the team. The overly negative system deployed by Laszlo means that it feels as though United are playing catch-up during the early stages of each game and it allows every other team to press us high up the park. The fans deserve better, especially at home.
One other concerning aspect of Saturday’s game, the first home game in about six weeks, was the malaise in the crowd. Numbers are down, yet again, plus the atmosphere isn’t even one of anger anymore it is one of apathy. When football fans become apathetic about their own team then you are in serious trouble. The crowd tomorrow against Queen of the South will easily fall below 4000 and it could be even worse. For a club like Dundee United it is deeply worrying. The board are budgeting for a 10% drop in season tickets next year but unless, if by some miracle, we start winning games and entertaining the fans then that drop may be at least double their estimate. This run of fixtures could be a fantastic opportunity to bring back the fans and build some great momentum but if the next 12 or so games are anything like the game on Saturday then it could do some real, long-lasting, damage to the club.
Now finally for some teams news….(and a repetition of about 10 different previous match previews). We need to drop Harry Lewis, we need to not play Stewart Murdoch at right-back, we need to drop Jamie Robson, we need to not play one upfront, we need to not sit defensively and let the away side take the game to us and we need to NEVER play Paul Quinn as a defensive midfielder again. The manager has pretty much a full squad again so he needs to begin to use some of the players that he has overlooked. A grand total of one January signing started on Saturday. The likes of Gillespie, Lyng, Slater and Mason have either made no impact or have been underused.
My ideal team for tomorrow would be –
GK – Deniz Mehmet
RB – Anthony Ralston
CB – Mark Durnan
CB – William Edjenguele
LB – Tam Scobbie
RM – Paul McMullan
CM – Sam Stanton
CM – Grant Gillespie
LM – Billy King
ST – Scott McDonald
ST – Thomas Mikkelsen
Subs – Harry Lewis, Emil Lyng, Jamie Robson, Willo Flood, Matty Smith, Craig Slater, Scott Fraser.
Key Player – Scott McDonald – I’ve been incredibly critical of Scott McDonald and with good reason, but it has to be said he made a real difference when he came on against Inverness. The move to a 442 meant he was given the freedom of the frontline and he used his experience to create space in the lines between the midfield and the strikers.