Well folks it is time for the third and final part of this ‘thrilling’ look back at the 1997/98 Dundee United squad. If you weren’t already depressed after hearing Tuesday’s news regarding Thompson’s shares then please feel free to read on as we look at some ridiculously good talent that we used to have at our club. For anyone just randomly stumbling across this there are two other parts to have a look at (here and here) with the motivation of this series being my love affair with Championship Manager 97/98. This United squad really were pretty damn good and it is disappointing that they didn’t achieve more. I’m not really sure what happened over the summer of 1997 but the team that finished the 96/97 season suddenly started to falter under Tommy McLean and they never quite recovered. It was also the case that after 1998 we became seriously rubbish for about a decade until Craig Levein arrived at the club and changed everything for the better.
We’ve looked at the Goalkeepers and Defenders so in this last part we will turn our attention to the Midfielders and Strikers.
I don’t really remember much about Grant Johnson. Technically he left the club before making an appearance in 97/98 but he was still part of the squad when Championship Manager was released. His main season for United was the First Division campaign in 1995/96 but after that he didn’t ever secure a regular place in the United lineup before moving to Huddersfield (and eventually a strong finish to his career in Angus with Montrose and Brechin). Johnson did become a member of Ray McKinnon’s staff when he was at Tannadice but I’m not sure what he is doing now (although he was, and maybe still is, a partner at Thornton’s Solicitors in Dundee).
I actually always thought David Sinclair was more of a right-back? Maybe one of the literally dozens of people who have read this can shed a bit of light on it but I always pictured him as a defender (with silly hair if I remember correctly). I also always associate him with having a stupidly nice car for someone who was essentially a fringe player for us. Post-match one Saturday I saw him get into his very expensive looking Mercedes so that is basically all I remember him for.
Obviously the talents of Ray McKinnon are well known. An obscenely gifted player who, due to many different on and off the field challenges never quite fulfilled his potential. I actually only saw McKinnon make a handful of appearances for United because he struggled to hold down a place in the 97/98 season before leaving at the end of the year. He of course returned as manager a couple of years ago but we all know how that turned out…
Zetterlund, Olofsson, Pedersen and Jonsson. That’s it for me, that’s my United heaven. When we were ‘invaded’ by the Scandinavians it essentially changed my whole footballing life and that is not an understatement. For the first time in my ‘active’ years in following football I was able to see a group of foreign, unknown talents light up a football pitch and give me, a young boy, that feeling of idolising footballers. Zetterlund was probably the least likely to grab headlines but he still exuded class in the middle of the park. Of course he was actually part of the Gothenburg squad that beat United in the UEFA Cup Final but at the time of him joining us that didn’t register with me. He also, as the image above shows, had the most bizarre set of attributes I have seen in Champ Man/Football Manager. He has 20 for determination, heading and influence but only 1 for technique, set pieces, flair and dribbling! What an odd footballer that would have made him.
Not too much to say about Dave Bowman’s United career, we all know how big a part he played over 12 years and he is one of the all time greats. I probably only really saw a little bit of the tail end (a bit like Malpas) and I always remember Tommy McLean using him out on the right during some games (if my memory serves me this was a disaster when we capitulated in the Coca-Cola Cup Final against Celtic). Bowman is still at the club and has recently been appointed as a scout (although part of me is a bit confused as to how much experience he has in this area).
My all-time number one (but everyone knew that already). I love Siggi Jonsson. I still maintain he is the most technically gifted player I’ve ever seen at Tannadice and there is no doubt that if it wasn’t for Graeme Souness breaking Jonsson’s leg (and the subsequent back issues as result) then he simply would not have played for club like United. Early in his career he was seen as the best prospect in Icelandic history and he was linked with clubs like AC Milan before joining Sheffield Wednesday and then Arsenal. He only made 45 or so appearances for us but I just thought he strolled through every one of those games and it was a pleasure to see him play football.
Two things. One, if you remember Dale Gray enough to rate him as a footballer then you are a liar (or Dale Gray). Two, how good are some of his attributes in Championship Manager?!?!
I’ll be honest I really liked Jamie Dolan. I remember him getting a hard time from fans about being very slow and taking too much time on the ball but I thought he had a tremendous range of passing and he was very underrated. Given the modern fashion for playing a 4231 I think he would have fitted in perfectly as one of the two sitting midfielders in that formation (he was actually quite slow which left him exposed in a 442). Sadly he passed away ten years ago only at only 39 years of age. His death occurred as a result of a heart attack that was linked to a hereditary condition his father also died from.
A fantastic talent who should have gone on to much bigger things but his personal challenges held him back. If you have not yet seen the Simon Ferry interview with McLaren then I would encourage you to give it a watch (here). It really is a tale of personal demons getting in the way of a potential Scotland regular and someone who could have won a series of honours.
Easton was probably one of the first young talents I saw emerge from the United youth setup. He was never a stand-out but gave an awful lot for the club and he did mature into a pretty accomplished midfielder even though he never really looked like he would develop beyond that. Of course Easton is now back at the club as our new Reserve manager and I have a funny feeling he will play a big role over the next few years (and I wouldn’t put it past him possibly being involved in a more senior capacity further down the line).
Not to be confused with the actual Paul Gallacher (who was of course a goalkeeper and not a winger), this is another fake news story from Sports Interactive and this guy isn’t real.
Another fantastic player for United. Having Robbie Winters and Andy McLaren down both sides really was brilliant and I probably think that Winters in his prime was as good as anyone in Scotland. He made over 100 appearances for us and I love the fact that after spending a few seasons with Aberdeen he did what more players should do and he went abroad to play his football. I think he is held in really high regard over in Norway where he played for Brann. He was also involved in the most bizarre transfer arrangement I can remember when we were given lots of money and Billy Dodds for Winters. At the time he wasn’t at his best but Aberdeen were willing to give us one of the best goalscorers in Scotland (Dodds) and a few hundred thousand pounds in exchange for his services.
Simply known as ‘Misse Misse’ on Champ Man the legend that is Jean-Jacques Misse-Misse. Arriving out of the blue the Cameroon internationalist will go down as being one of a ling list of foreign imports that didn’t make the grade and one that only spent a short time at the club. I remember driving to Tannadice on the day he signed and the Radio Scotland presenters getting all excited about his name and the intrigue behind the transfer. He did play against United for Trabzonspor in Europe and he did have 10 caps for Cameroon but for a striker who wasn’t very good in front of goal his name became the thing people remember the most about him.
This guy is actually listed as a player on ArabArchive but I can’t find any information on him so I really don’t know about this one. Feel free to get in touch if you are Richard Thompson so we can clear this up!
Another mis-spelling for Sports Interactive and shame on them given that ‘Kjell’ is one of the most iconic strikers in United’s history. I don’t think I’m overselling that because the giant Swede was unlike any striker I have ever seen and most people who saw him play would agree that he was one of the most effective players we’ve ever had. A strong, deceptively quick and skilful striker he seemed to possess every attribute you would look for in a footballer. He loved the club and the fans loved him back (we still do). Many United fans still keep in touch with Olofsson and he has been a regular at Tannadice over the years (once appearing dressed as the mascot).
I was a big fan of McSwegan. He averaged a goal in every 3 games for us and I always thought he was a fantastic natural finisher. A player we paid £375,000 for he repaid that faith and then some but he did leave the club on a free transfer for Hearts (and I was always a bit annoyed at him for that).
If anyone ever benefited from Dundee United’s love affair with all things Scandinavian it was Goran Marklund. He arrived out of nowhere and was seen as a natural heir to the throne of people like Olofsson but he never really did anything in his three appearances for United. Maybe the weight of expectation made things difficult for him but to be honest I doubt he would have developed much further. The most interesting fact about Marklund is that he ended up spending much of his career at a club called ‘Cafe Opera United’.
So that is it for the United squad but if you have made it this far and you are thinking “where is Marino Keith?” then you will know from the previous posts that some players were not included in Championship Manager for whatever reason. Just like in the previous instalment I am on hand to list those not in the final game –
Mikael Andersson – I have zero recollection about who this guy was. He arrived on loan from Orebro and played a handful of times before leaving.
Jim Crawford – You mean THE Jim Crawford? The same Jim Crawford that played 180 times for Shelbourne? Yes it is that Jim Crawford (don’t worry I have no idea who he is either).
Wayne Gill – Yet another name who would escape the vast majority. A loan signing from Blackburn he played twice for us.
Emmanuel Omoyinmi – Now I do remember this guy. I went to see him play when he made an appearance against Dunfermline and I thought he was going to be great for us because he was really fast. He was rubbish.
Marino Keith – For anyone reading this from Plymouth you’ll remember Marino Keith very fondly. He did nothing for United and left when he was still young but he did go on to have a very solid career, spending most of it at Plymouth after spells with Falkirk and Livingston. He does have a great name.
Now we are at the very, very end (thankfully). The last thing I will post is an image of my first choice team for when I played Championship Manager 97/98. What I would ask you not to do is go away and cry in a darkened room when you look at this team and then think about the standard of players we have had in the last few seasons compared to this lot…