Well I hope you all enjoyed the Betfred Cup. After just two games in the group stage United are effectively out of the competition and now face the prospect of playing two further matches in the next fortnight that will have the feel of glorified friendlies. Of course if you have been at either of the matches so far you will know what that feels like as United have made it pretty obvious that they view these games as warm-up matches for the league campaign. Now don’t get me wrong, the league is the absolute priority, but I feel a bit short-changed (literally) as Csaba Laszlo prepares for this year with an odd and frustrating approach to the League Cup (this is despite him claiming on Tuesday night that the cup actually is “very important”).
It transpired after the Arbroath game that Laszlo had put his side through a double training session on the Friday, which he said explained the reason as to why the team were so sluggish the day after. Approaching a competitive fixture like this tells us what Laszlo thinks about the competition and he is now having to live with that decision as his team have just a single point out of two games we should have been looking to win. The Ross County game in particular was an opportunity to show one of our divisional rivals that we are fit and ready to go this year and that we mean business. Another 90 minutes of ineffective possession based football resulted in a late defeat (although to be fair we could have snatched a victory if Nicky Clark had converted his penalty). The criticisms of Laszlo have already started and for these next two games he is potentially going to be caught in two minds as to how he approaches the Alloa fixture and then the trip to Elgin. On one hand you could argue that he simply goes ahead with some experimental teamlines and gives time to some of the younger players but if things don’t work out he is in the firing line again. The other argument, and this would be mine, is that he plays as close to his first team as he can and he fields the team he wants to start the league campaign.
Trying to figure out what Csaba Laszlo is going to do is on par with trying to work out on of Derren Brown’s most elaborate tricks and I cannot predict what he might choose do over the next two weeks but whatever he does do he needs to know that already fans (not all but a fair chunk) are beginning to count the days until he leaves United. He still has some recruitment to do, he still has some injury concerns but in terms of shape, tactics and game management we are already potentially seeing the same problems we have seen before. Again, the league is the priority and if we start the campaign well then it may well turn out to be a great season but for now there is caution in the air and a worry amongst fans.
Personally I think Laszlo over the next two games needs to build what he believes to be his first choice backline from what he has available. We are dreadfully weak defensively and we need to have a consistent defensive structure as early as possible this season. If we didn’t sign anyone else (and I shudder at the thought of that actually happening) then he needs to start with Siegrist, Wardrop, Murdoch, Frans and Booth. You would hope that Murdoch would be replaced but the others across the back seem to be in the best position to be considered as first choice in their position (the goalkeepers maybe still need to be clarified). Further forward on the park all depends on if we do get a chance to play 442 or we stick with a 4231.
Current Injuries and Team News – This frustrates me at the moment. I don’t think United are clear enough about who is and who is not available due to injuries. There has been no mention of the situation surrounding James Keatings (he may have left even by the time you read this) and we don’t know the extent of Billy King’s injury. Lewis Toshney, who was apparently still injured, left for Arbroath on Monday and then started for them the next day. Players seem to appear and disappear without any information being passed to us and to be honest the most frustrating part of all of that is the scramble on social media as everyone tries to figure out why a certain player is missing. We are only really sure of both Fraser Fyvie and Deniz Mehmet missing out this weekend due to injury but I am sure there may be others.
My ideal lineup for tomorrow would be –
GK – Benji Siegrist
RB – Sam Wardrop
CB – Stewart Murdoch (C)
CB – Frederic Frans
LB – Callum Booth
RM – Paul McMullan
CM – Sam Stanton
CM – Adam Barton
LM – Fraser Aird
ST – Nicky Clark
ST – Craig Curran
Subs – Matej Rakovan (GK), Tam Scobbie, Jamie Robson, Declan Glass, Matty Smith, Scott Allardice, Christoph Rabitsch.