Well it must be said that being a United fan is sometimes worryingly predictable. After all of the good vibes from yesterday and a seemingly positive build up this morning it is reassuring that United still can’t let us be happy all of the time. Of course it is still very, very early in the footballing calendar but today’s match against Arbroath was a fairly tepid, and for long spells incredibly dull, game of football. We can’t expect a new team to gel instantly but Arbroath had a very patchwork side and only registered a squad of 14 for today. It was also strange after Laszlo’s comment regarding limited substitutions that he only made one in the 90 minutes even though it was clear we needed to change our formation. Sticking with his belief of not leaving anyone forward at defensive corners is also still, for me, totally baffling.
I think I am a fairly level-headed person and fully understand that things take time but today wasn’t exactly the positive start we had all hoped for and it already puts us in a difficult position with regards to qualifying from this group. The league is the priority but we should be going out to show fans what they can expect this season (although maybe this is it). Laszlo for me got today wrong because he stuck with a very negative and rigid shape that was evidently wrong for much of last year. He had been experimenting with a more recognised 442 during some of the action these last few weeks but for fans today it was a solitary striker supported by the three attacking midfielders. The shape doesn’t allow for any fluid movement or quick attacking intent. He was hampered with the loss of Craig Curran and James Keatings but we still had enough in the squad to play a more attacking style. Even if it didn’t come off you could have at least made the supporters a bit happier by having a right go (he did say he wanted to impress the fans). I suppose it was just a frustrating afternoon for what could have been a decent way to get a season underway. We now face a very difficult trip to division rivals Ross County in midweek and that will be a more truthful test of this side.
Not much else to say about today although it is great to have Scottish referees back after their absence over the summer. Some very odd decisions as always, including a dreadful decision to award Arbroath a penalty in the first half.
Player Ratings from today –
1 – Benjamin Siegrist – Didn’t have a great deal to do but he did pretty well and claimed some good high balls in the box – 6
22 – Sam Wardrop – An assured enough performance from someone who looks like a natural right-back and should slot in well to the team – 6
2 – Stewart Murdoch – Didn’t do a huge amount wrong as he didn’t have an awful lot to deal with – 6
4 – Frederic Frans – A strange game from the Belgian. He seemed to be in control for most of the game but wasn’t as aggressive in 50/50 situations as I thought he might be – 6
17 – Jamie Robson – Poor showing from Robson. You would think Booth will comfortably be ahead of him in the queue when the league campaign begins – 3
12 – Sam Stanton – Very quiet for long spells and didn’t get forward enough which hampered the shape in attack – 5
20 – Christopher Rabitsch – Looked very assured in the middle. Gave away the penalty but that was harsh on him given it indirectly came from a Robson error previous to that. Looks like he might be a decent player for us – 7
7 – Paul McMullan – Blew very hot and cold (but he does most matches). Came into the game more at the end of the first half and the start of the second – 6
32 – Declan Glass – Showed the experienced players around him how to do it. Very positive on the ball, tenacious in the tackle and always looking to be involved – 8 – Man of the Match
33 – Fraser Aird – Similar to McMullan he showed flashes and seems to be our designated set-piece taker so was involved a fair bit. Decent display – 6
10 – Nicky Clark – Was given the sponsors Man of the Match award but I thought he was very isolated and not suited to playing the lone striker role (we’ve been here before under Laszlo). Took his goal very well – 7
Subs – 29 – Logan Chalmers – Poor on the ball and a few loose passes. Missed the deciding penalty – 4