So Alloa, we meet again! After last Saturday’s dismal draw it is now time to focus on Craig Easton’s young squad as they face Jim Goodwin’s team in the Irn-Bru Cup. I’ll be honest, I think that we are on to a bit of a hiding tomorrow, and that is me being optimistic. With the club making the decision to treat the Irn-Bru Cup as a development tournament it was always going to be the case that we would eventually face a ‘proper’ team and given Alloa’s recent form it is going to be, in my opinion, a virtually impossible task for Easton.
The Reserve season has now started but unfortunately the Dundee United squad have struggled badly so far. An opening day humiliation in Paisley saw the team lose 5-0 and although a 1-1 draw with Killie showed signs of promise the youngsters were again dismantled as Hearts beat us 5-1 on Monday afternoon.
One argument surrounding youth development is the focus we place on results. You are never really going to have a team full of exciting young stars so for some it is more about focusing on three or four who might make the grade and then building a team around them (even if that side isn’t particularly strong). With so much pressure on the United first team it is safe to say that this is very much a bedding in year for Craig Easton and for Under 18s manager Scott Robertson. In this week’s media interviews Easton insisted that he has seen improvement and some positive development so we need to trust in that regardless of some of the attention grabbing score-lines.
It is difficult to say who might break into the first team from this young squad but having been at the St.Johnstone match in the previous round I was personally very impressed with tenacious midfielder Mati Zata. The obvious names that also stand out are Matty Smith and Declan Glass, both who have already made first team appearances. Elsewhere there are one or two that seem to have been in and around the club for a couple of seasons and for people like Louis Appere you would think that this year is incredibly important if they are to make a career for themselves at Dundee United.
What we will also see tomorrow is one or two first team squad players and you would think that Benjamin Siegrist, Paul McMullan, Sam Wardrop and William Edjenguele might be involved.
The Irn-Bru Cup is at the bottom of our priority list and Craig Easton, you would imagine, might not privately be too disappointed to lose if it meant he was then allowed to concentrate solely on the league.