I received a few responses to my previous blog post that all seemed to focus on my use of the word ‘freebie’. The messages and comments were not best pleased that I seemed to devalue the nature of yesterday’s game against top of the table Ayr United. What I actually meant by using that term was that yesterday was a chance for fans (and for Laurie Ellis) to approach a fixture, even if it was just one, with a sense of relief and positivity after the cloud of Laszlo was lifted from Tannadice.
Yesterday was absolutely massive and it was a match that we really needed to get something from. My own pre-match excitement was due to the Laszlo sacking and the fact that I hadn’t been to Somerset in a number of years, but I was very aware of the significance yesterday had in our quest for promotion.
The problem with being positive, especially when Dundee United are involved, is that so often it doesn’t last and yet again yesterday the fans were left wondering where we go from here. For the 500 United supporters who made the long journey yesterday we didn’t see any post-Laszlo bounce and the same issues were our achilles heel. Poor at the back and lacking in creativity we were in the end lucky to lose just 2-0 given the number of glaring chances missed by Ayr United.
In the first half both teams were poor and to be honest Ayr didn’t look like a team that were flying high in the league. We didn’t create much but didn’t look under too much pressure either. Yet again though we lose a soft goal due to a lack of fight and concentration and all of a sudden we have to play catch-up. The second 45 was a different game entirely with United have lots of the ball but doing nothing with it. The further forward we pushed the more space it left at the back and Ayr had at least 4 glorious chances before finally adding a second. They could have and should have scored at least one more in the final fifteen minutes and to be honest United could have played all day and not scored.
At what point do we begin to question the players? Laszlo is definitely at fault for a large percentage of what has gone wrong this season but yesterday the players, now free of the Hungarian, showed no extra fight, no extra passion and at no point did you sense that they were playing with a bit more freedom or with a spring in their step.
The pressure is now magnified on the board given that they gave the green light for all of these signings (nearly all of them on two-year deals) and as much as I want to say (and have said) that this squad is good enough to win the league, is it really? When you pick apart each area of the team is there really genuine quality in there? We maybe have four or five good players, five or six decent Championship players and then three or four who probably aren’t good enough.
Whoever takes on this managerial job will be stuck with this squad until January and may only have a budget to add one or two more when the next transfer window opens. We desperately need someone who can come in, take no prisoners, and get this team organised and playing simple but effective football. Limited teams can achieve good things with the right management and we will desperately need that if we are to salvage an already very poor season. We are eight points behind the league leaders and we haven’t even played a quarter of the season.
Player Ratings –
1 – Benjamin Siegrist – Can’t seem to kick a football properly but overall he was okay. Very average and neither he or Rakovan fill anyone with much confidence. 5
44 – Paul Watson – Doesn’t look comfortable on the right-hand side and very guilty of poor position in the second half. 4
19 – Rachid Bouhenna – Seems like he should be a good player but was caught out yesterday with the pace of the game once Ayr started to press forward. 5
4 – Frederic Frans – For someone so tall he isn’t particularly strong and like Bouhenna he didn’t like being put under pressure. 4
3 – Callum Booth – For how many seasons has left-back (and right-back) been an issue? Booth had a chance to impress yesterday and didn’t take it. Physically stronger than Robson but suffers from the same issues in terms of using the ball and defensive positioning. 3
16 – Matty Smith – A surprise starter and although he had a very quiet first half he did try to get involved in the second. Still short on quality in terms of overall play. 5
8 – Fraser Fyvie – Clearly our best player but ran out of energy after the 60 minute mark and he should have been off earlier. 6
20 – Christopher Rabitsch – Sometimes it looks like Rabitsch can do a basic job but when he is part of a midfield two he is badly exposed as being a very limited footballer. 3
11 – Billy King – Had a decent spell in the second half but guilty, along with others, of just going missing for large chunks of the game. 5
7 – Paul McMullan – No doubting he has natural ability with the ball at his feet but his decision making is still his biggest weakness. 5
14 – Pavol Šafranko – Ran himself into the ground. If we could clone him half a dozen times then we’d be fine. Others in the squad need to learn from Šafranko. 7
12. Sam Stanton – Good to see him get minutes but couldn’t make a difference.
90. Yanick Loemba – Beats his man every time but what comes next is always the problem. Decision making is a big weakness.
10. Nicky Clark – Like Stanton it was good to see him. Could have snatched a goal late on.
Man of the Match – Only one player comes close to this, Pavol Šafranko. Incredible work-rate and others in that team need to take look at themselves when you have someone on loan who comes in and puts you to shame in terms of effort and commitment.
Up Next – Next week should have been a free week but United and Partick Thistle decided to re-arrange a their league game for next Saturday. Given that both are now looking for new managers it seems like a foolish decision by the clubs. We are one or two bad results away from this season becoming an absolute disaster so we may see a new manager in place for next Saturday if the board can be decisive enough to make that happen. We need a win and we need it quickly.
Championship Results –
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1 – 1 Greenock Morton
Partick Thistle 0 – 2 Ross County
Queen of the South 3 – 3 Alloa Athletic
Falkirk 0 – 2 Dunfermline Athletic
Ayr United 2 – 0 Dundee United