Tomorrow night United travel to Dingwall in the aftermath of a pretty dire result on Saturday and one that has already soured the fans view of Laszlo and his new look side. In my Arbroath match review I said that the game against County would be a more “truthful” test of this United side and a few people asked me what I meant by this. I suppose I was trying to say that in Ross County we are facing a team who, like us, will feel like they can win the Championship this year so this game will give us and Laszlo the chance to see where both teams are in terms of preparation for the new league campaign (County beat Elgin 2-0 in the Betfred on Saturday).
Reflecting once again on Saturday I would say that one word I keep repeating over and over is “boring”. Personally I don’t particularly enjoy watching a brand of football that focuses on the back four passing it back and forth between one another but that is what we have seen under Laszlo and that is what we got again on Saturday. It was dreadfully pedestrian and just incredibly one-dimensional. Even when we did break upfield and had the chance to get the ball in the box we had one solitary striker standing in the six yard area surrounded by four Arbroath defenders. I just feel as though if this is the plan moving forward then it feels like we will spend a lot of time this year trying to avoid losing rather than trying to win. When you look at St.Mirren and before them Hibs, they both managed to achieve promotion through a similar style of play. Both played a direct, high press, high energy style of football and for me this is what fans want to see. We all know that teams lose games and have bad performances but I’d rather my team lose whilst trying to win than lose because of possession errors whilst players are aimlessly passing the ball sideways and backwards. Yes it is just one game and we have lots of new faces but the system, the shape, the setup at corners, all of it was the same. We’ve also signed Adam Barton who predominantly plays as a defensive midfielder so it might be that we are heading for another season of 4231.
Rant over we now move on to team news for tomorrow and I am unsure as to what injuries we have because things aren’t particularly clear at the moment. On Saturday James Keatings was left out of the squad but there was no pre-match indication of an injury. It was reported yesterday that this might be because Keatings is looking to move on and he may possibly be in line for a move back to Hamilton. The same is also true of Paul McMullan. Despite the winger playing the full 90 minutes on Saturday it is pretty obvious that Laszlo doesn’t really rate McMullan and he was a bit of a benchwarmer towards the tail end of last year. Whilst McMullan is clearly quite a talented player he doesn’t show this often enough and is guilty, like others, of going into hiding during games. I think he can still be a decent impact player but if we had someone good lined up then maybe it would be time for him to move on. I would be a bit more disappointed with Keatings leaving but only because I think we have not seen the best of him. His record is good but due to injuries and personal challenges last year he missed large spells. It might be best for him personally to get a clean break but if I had the option I would hang on to him for the season ahead.
I’d hope that Laszlo plays his strongest side against Ross County. He has been very open about treating these games as pre-season matches but with two Championship rivals coming up over the next week we need to try to put down a marker. It also short changes fans if people are spending time and money watching United only to be told that these matches are being seen as glorified practice matches.
Current Injuries and Team News – Fraser Fyvie, Billy King, Lewis Toshney and Deniz Mehmet are all injured. Craig Curran is doubtful but might make it. I’d assume that James Keatings and Paul McMullan may miss out completely or be on the bench. Adam Barton may be short of match practice.
My lineup for tomorrow would be –
GK – Benji Siegrist
RB – Sam Wardrop
CB – Stewart Murdoch (C)
CB – Frederic Frans
LB – Callum Booth
RM – Fraser Aird
CM – Sam Stanton
CM – Christoph Rabitsch
LM – Declan Glass
ST – Nicky Clark
ST – Matty Smith
Subs – Matej Rakovan (GK), Tam Scobbie, Jamie Robson, Logan Chalmers, Paul McMullan, Scott Allardice, Adam Barton.