Let’s get one thing straight, the playoffs are a time for unwavering support. This blog post will be a positive one, a supportive one and one that will hopefully lift the spirits a little. These upcoming fixtures may lead to nothing but as long as we are in the playoffs the reality is that we are one step closer to a promotion and a return to the Premiership. It might seem like a pipe dream and it might seem like we require a footballing miracle but this is football after all and miracles can and do happen. If we are to demand every last ounce of energy from the players then we as fans must also give the same.
Fatigue will play a part but the supporters can alievate that a little by giving the players that extra ounce of energy. We faltered badly by the time we reached the Hamilton games last season but there is more depth to this squad and we do, on paper, have more options in most areas of the park. The team is also actually on a pretty good run of form (Queen of the South apart). There is more than enough experience in this squad to see off Dunfermline and then Livingston next week. As I write this I know some of it sounds like an alien language compared to recent blog posts but once again I say, this is football and miracles can happen. From the moment I step into East End Park tomorrow to the moment that the final whistle is blown in whatever playoff fixture we end up in the team will get my complete backing. The United fans are a loyal bunch when the pressure is on and if early ticket sales are anything to go by the team will have the support they want. It is all down to them. I would suggest that these playoff games are like one-off domestic cup fixtures, the team that wants to win the battle will be the team that wins out in the end.
I also hope that in all of is managerial experience we have someone in charge who can at least try to tactically navigate his way through these high-pressure ties. In Csaba Laszlo we have a manager who is eccentric and unpredictable so maybe, just maybe this is the kind of environment he will thrive in. He has promised a new Dundee United, he has promised that things will be different in playoffs. Csaba, I hope that you are right.
I’m not sure what kind of system the manager will deploy tomorrow but I hope that he picks a side who can play the occasion and not the game. I know that maybe sounds like the complete opposite of what a manager would say but to be honest the winning formula in a playoff game is the occasion taking over and giving the players the energy and passion to get over the finishing line. I look to the St.Mirren game recently as an example of a team playing the occasion. We fought, we battled and we bent the rules a little when it came to gamesmanship. For me this is what I want again tomorrow as we travel to Dunfermline. The home leg is maybe an opportunity to open up a bit more but I think tomorrow is all about stamping your authority on the tie.
All talk of form, head-to-heads and hoodoos don’t really make a difference in my opinion. It might be that football record books show that we have a ridiculously good record over Dunfermline but others might say that maybe now is the time for them to end that. Tomorrow and Friday are about heart and fight, not statistics and form guides.
When all is said and done and as we look ahead to these games against Dunfermline and beyond remember, this is football and miracles do happen…