There is definitely more than a hint of madness in this United fan. After the final whistle last Saturday I was all for chucking it and spent the journey home cursing the players, the manager and everything about the club I have been watching every week since I was about 12 years old. Fast forward a couple of days and I was already securing childcare (thanks Mum) so that I can travel to Dumfries to see Laszlo’s gang take on Queen of the South. Even as my wife insisted that because she was going out on Saturday that I couldn’t make the trip I was already covertly arranging for our baby to be looked after. Why on earth do I do this to myself?
The fallout from the tepid and half-hearted display against Dunfermline has followed a similar path to many a weekend. Social media becomes a seething mess, fans call for Laszlo’s head and then we all feel really sad as the week moves towards the next Saturday. It has been like this for a few seasons now and it shows little sign of changing. Maybe we have reached the bottom and the only way is up. Maybe we will turn on the style against Queen of the South before the team suddenly gels ahead of the rest of the campaign. Or maybe it will be a case of history repeating itself.
Losing football matches is a thing that the majority of supporters need to accept. By the very nature of you following a more ‘provincial’ team you understand that defeats happen and bad spells are common place in a long season. What does make you angry is seeing your team lose so meekly. The result on Saturday flattered United. Yes we scored two goals but we created so little that we genuinely could not have complained if it read “United 0”. With the match against Dunfermline being the opening league fixture of the season what you needed to see was energy, desire and a willingness to attack. We needed to set a positive tone for the season but we failed to do so. Whether the manager likes it or not the reality is that his record at United is incredibly poor and the performances don’t show signs of encouragement. Yes we have a new team, new training schedules and it is early days but we should have seen a first game ‘bounce’ and it didn’t happen. The clock seems to be ticking for Laszlo.
Media reports this week do seem to suggest that the board are already looking at setting Laszlo an ultimatum over the next few games so it is all or nothing for him and if the players want him to stay they need to start showing it. Saturday’s game against Queen of the South is, on paper, one of the more winnable games we have this season so it could be a great way to get things going. However another poor performance and result could almost signal the end of Laszlo’s time in charge. At the time of writing we have yet to secure the services of Pavol Safranko but it looks likely that the Slovakian target man should be in the squad for the trip to Dumfries. The fact that the manager is still being given permission to make signings suggest the board are still supportive of him, despite media rumours.
Laszlo has apologised for last Saturday and he insists that it will not happen again. We shall see…
Possible Starting Lineup vs Queen of the South –
GK –Matej Rakovan
RB – Sam Wardrop
CB – Frederic Frans
CB –Stewart Murdoch
LB – Jamie Robson (assuming that Booth is still not 100%)
CDM – Adam Barton
CDM – Christoph Rabitsch
RM –Fraser Aird
CAM – Sam Stanton
LM – Yannick Loemba
ST – Nicky Clark
Others – We still don’t really know what the story is with James Keatings but it is safe to say that it is more than just match fitness and today he has posted a photograph on social media that shows him training with the reserves. The same can be said for Paul McMullan who, despite coming on against Dunfermline, is very much on the fringes at the moment. Hopefully Callum Booth is actually fit and under the circumstances (and I can’t believe I am saying this) it would be good to have Stewart Murdoch (or Paul Watson) come in for ‘Edge’. Might we see a surprise spot on the bench for Fraser Fyvie? It was looking likely given reports in the paper two weeks ago but it has been suggested this week he is still a few weeks away.
Key Player(s) – We need to create more chances and we need more goals. The scoreline last Saturday flattered us and maybe gave a false impression as to how many chances we had. Players like Yannick Loemba and Fraser Aird need to step up.
View From The Opposition –Despite having to come from behind to secure a draw against Greenock Morton the reality is that Queen of the South were much the better side at Cappielow. They have had a strong and free-scoring pre-season so they will relish playing against a team like United with our defensive frailties. As always the focus will be on Stephen Dobbie to pull the strings but with the addition of Gary Harkins they also have a very gifted player sitting in behind him (and someone who will be desperate to embarrass United). Their squad is still very thin beyond the starting eleven but this early in the season they will have almost a full squad to choose from.
Current Form (Last Four Games) –
United – 1-0 Defeat vs Ross County (A), 1-1 Draw vs Alloa (H) – United lost on penalties, 4-0 Win vs Elgin (A), 3-1 Defeat vs Dunfermline (H).
Queen of the South – 3-0 Win vs Clyde (H), 4-0 Win vs Edinburgh City (A), 2-0 Defeat vs Motherwell (A), 2-2 Draw vs Greenock Morton (A).
The Weekend’s Full Championship Fixture Card –