I couldn’t help but use the picture above as the featured image for this preview. For someone of my age the 1995/96 season was the first I really soaked up as a football fan and the playoff against Partick at Tannadice will always hold a special place for me.
Thinking back to that game I had to go back and have a look at the squad we had that night. It is pretty frightening just how much talent we had for a club who were in the First Division (and it is a million miles away from the squads of recent seasons). The lineup on that day was – Maxwell, McQuilken, Welsh, Shannon, Dailly, Pressley, McLaren, Bowman, McSwegan, Winters, Brewster with McKinnon, Johnson and Coyle on the bench. That is an incredibly strong side (and one that didn’t include players like Malpas or Hannah). We’ve come a long way since then…
As for the here and now I am assuming that everyone had a lovely football free weekend and we are all ready to get back to it? There’s something quite nice about being able to go about your business on a Saturday without the pre-match fear and post-match rage filling your weekend (and of course it is made all the sweeter when the team across the road get a good roasting). Back to business though and it has to be said that despite the mini-break the stress never really left us. We are approaching yet another really important and really tough fixture so it really is never possible to totally switch-off when United are involved.
The visit of Partick Thistle could, even this early in the season, be a defining fixture for both clubs. Ask any United fan and they will tell you that Csaba Laszlo is still very much in the dying days of his tenure. Despite a positive result against Queen of the South there is absolutely no room for error and this is especially true given the break his squad have had over the last fortnight. The irony in this fixture is that Partick fans are in the exact same boat. They too are deeply unhappy with their manager and there may be a weird atmosphere after the game as some fans on both sides might not be too unhappy with a defeat if it meant the termination of their manager’s contract. Personally I never really buy into that way of thinking (although I do understand it). I want my team to win every week and this Saturday is no different.
Looking back to Dumfries there is a need to give credit for United’s first half performance. The team was positive in possession, good going forward and it looked like we had found a shape that allowed for effective movement in and around the box. The unfortunate (and maybe predictable) thing was the second half collapse. A 35 minute spell of deep defending and rushed clearances in the second-half is not going to get you victories and it might have been very different if Queen of the South had just been a little sharper in their finishing. In saying that the victory was an important one and it would be fantastic if United could get the home campaign up and running against Thistle. This will be a great marker and, in a league where everyone can beat everyone, it would be a vital three points. After a team bonding trip to Aviemore here is hoping that the players can build on their first victory of the season.
Possible Starting Lineup vs Partick Thistle –
GK – Matej Rakovan
RWB – Fraser Aird
CB – Paul Watson
CB – Adam Barton
CB – Frederic Frans
LWB – Jamie Robson
CM – Sam Stanton (although there are doubts regarding a potential hernia issue).
CM – Christoph Rabitsch
CAM – Yannick Loemba
ST – Pavol Šafranko
ST – Nicky Clark
Others – Well it looks like James Keatings is pretty much done with United. It is common knowledge he is now permanently training with the Reserve squad and the fact that he couldn’t even make the bench for Craig Easton’s side in the Irn-Bru Cup shows that we will never see him in a United shirt ever again. Despite the performance of Paul McMullan in that Irn-Bru Cup game it looks unlikely he will return to the starting eleven anytime soon.
Elsewhere it looks like Fraser Fyvie is due to start regular training over the next few days and it seems as though Laszlo is still looking for reinforcements before the end of the transfer window. Unfortunately Billy King is still out and there are also ongoing doubts over Callum Booth and Stewart Murdoch.
Key Player(s) – After his impressive debut against Queen of the South you would expect the fans at Tanandice to watch the performance of Pavol Šafranko with a great deal of interest. Both he and Nicky Clark will have pressure on them to deliver the goals that we need to win the title.
View From The Opposition – If I had written this on Monday things might have been different but Partick Thistle have managed to suddenly lift the atmosphere at Firhill with one of the potential signings of the season. On Tuesday they announced the arrival of Souleymane Coulibaly and it is a deal that potentially could top any other piece of business done in the Championship this year. He isn’t match sharp and he will maybe initially take time to get up to speed but he is a potential match-winner and those players are like gold dust in this mega-competitive league. Elsewhere in the Partick squad it has to be said that they still, on paper, have a strong side (much like United). The big question mark is whether or not Alan Archibald can get the best out of his squad or do they need a clean break and a fresh face in the dugout?
Current Form (Last Four Games) –
United – 1-1 Draw vs Alloa – League Cup (H) – United lost on penalties, 4-0 Win vs Elgin – League Cup (A), 3-2 Loss vs Dunfermline (H), 2-1 Win vs Queen of the South (A)
Partick Thistle – 2-0 Loss vs Ayr United – League Cup (H), 2-0 Loss vs Ayr United (A), 2-1 Win vs Falkirk (H), 3-1 Loss vs Celtic – League Cup (H).
The Weekend’s Full Championship Fixture Card –