Many of us enjoy keeping tabs on players who leave our football club and for United fans there are two or three from recent seasons that really stand out (Robertson, Armstrong, Russell, Gauld amongst them). It is however the case that for every Andy Robertson there is an Alex Nicholls. In a planned new mini-series of blog posts I will attempt to gather information on all of the departures from Tannadice over the last few years and present that information so that you no longer have to ask the question, “where exactly did Wato Kuate go?”
To kick things off we will start with the most recent season and then work our way backwards…
Dundee United 2017/18 Departures
Poor wee Willo. This has been a dreadful few months for the Irishman who departed Tannadice for the fourth time in early June. He initially signed a deal with Dunfermline but shortly after that he was contacted by Bali United. He had an agreement with the Pars that allowed him to leave for what looked like the opportunity of a lifetime. After he signed his contract at Bali he made a bizarre promotional video for his new club and he was probably all set to get going, but due to red tape and new laws about foreign employment he was told that his contract had to be ripped up.
Since returning to Scotland he has been spotted using our St.Andrews training facilities and he has also spent time with Montrose but currently he is a free agent.
It is fair to say that Bilel Mohsni was the surprise signing of the season last year. His arrival was met with a great deal of skepticism but that was quickly changed when it turned out that he was actually very good (and was certainly far better than what we already had). After a successful 10 games for the club he left because he thought he needed to be playing at a higher level. There have been rumours about his whereabouts (and a couple of hints that he might have returned to Tannadice) but despite apparently signing for a club overseas he is still, I think, a free agent.
I’ll be honest, I think we could have kept Mark Durnan. Certainly not as someone who would be a first choice but he is a better player than at least three central defenders we still have on the books (Toshney, ‘Edge’ and Scobbie). It was maybe best he got a fresh start but I thought he might have been worth an additional year at the club (but plenty would disagree with me on that).
Durnan is now at Dunfermline Athletic and he has signed a one-year deal at East End Park.
Probably someone who can justifiably say he wasn’t ever given a proper chance at United. After numerous impressive loan spells and international call-ups the young right-back was brought back to Tannadice midway through last season with the hope that he might become a regular in the side. He was criminally underused over a spell of games where he would have been an obvious choice and then he drifted right out of the picture again. Initially he re-joined Montrose on loan but he was released by United at the end of his contract. He now plays for League One Dumbarton.
If it wasn’t for injuries Jordie Briels could have been a useful player for us last year. The Dutchman was only ever brought in on a year’s contract and unfortunately for him he got injured quite early on in the season and never fully recovered. A busy enough central midfielder he never really showed his true worth. Briels is now back in Holland playing in the Dutch second tier for TOP Oss.
This was a strange signing. Definitely a case of “sounds good on paper” but for Paul Quinn it was probably best his stay at United was a relatively short one. He actually trained with us for a fairly lengthy spell before we offered him a contract but even then it was only a very short-term deal. He suffered once Csaba Laszlo’s spell was well under way (despite signing a six-month contract extension). Rumours earlier in the year suggested he had numerous disagreements with the manager and it was always highly likely that we were going to release him once his contract had expired. Recently he took part in an interview where he heavily criticised United. Currently he is a free agent.
Yet another to be filed in the “decent” category but truth be told he always looked like a very short-term option. One of many January arrivals and one of many apparent Darren Taylor signings, Gillespie always looked like a hardworking player but never really had much of an impact in any games I watched him play. He was useful enough but it was the right-call in releasing him once his short-term contract was at an end. Gillespie is now at Raith Rovers.
Ah yes, Emil Lyng. For those United fans who had the ‘pleasure’ to watch big Emil it is safe to say that most would include him in a ‘Worst XI’ for the club. Cumbersome, slow and with dreadful technique he is someone who will always be a cloud hanging over Laszlo’s signing record. Amazingly Lyng is still a professional footballer and he currently plays in the Hungarian top-flight for Szombathelyi Halides (I definitely had to copy and paste that).
When is a target man not a target man? When he is Thomas Mikkelsen. I always wanted to like Mikkelsen but he always seemed to let me, and everyone else down. A flimsy 6 foot plus footballer who should have been pretty good but never was. He scored some decent goals for us but he also spent a fair chunk of his playing career at United on the ground. Amazingly he had two spells at United (because one wasn’t enough) and he is now in Iceland playing for Breiðablik (I had to copy and paste that too).
I was at the opening match last season up in Inverness. Harry Lewis was in the goal and played very well that day. Then the chants started and we all thought that Lewis was going to become a great goalkeeper and one that would eventually make a name for himself at his parent club, Southampton. Unfortunately as the weeks went by and the team became poorer things started to turn on Lewis and he made a few fatal errors that meant he was criticised by the fans. He was clearly a really nice guy and always had a smile on his face but the management should really have dropped him sooner than they did, even just to give him a rest and some protection (he was only 19 at the time).
Trying to track Lewis down via the Southampton official website is difficult because as far as I can see he doesn’t exist. Every other site has him listed as their player but he doesn’t appear on any of their official pages. He does actually still play for Southampton.
A signing that nearly saved the season. After a truckload of players appeared in January (many of them rubbish) it was Ralston who finally had the fans excited with a new face. A strong and physically dominant right-back he was also very good going forward. If you are to win the Championship you need three or four players of his calibre and it is unfortunate that we maybe didn’t try to get him back again this season.
He is still at Celtic, having turned down a couple of loan moves last month.
My honest opinion is that Craig Slater was a victim of circumstance and system rather than him being a poor player. I’m still convinced that given a run in the team he would have been a pretty good player for us but his spell at Tannadice was pretty limited and he was clearly not particularly happy at United given that his place in the squad was very much as a bit of a benchwarmer.
After leaving Slater joined Championship side Partick Thistle.
Only a few United fans ever got to see Mason play and for those ‘lucky’ few it was pretty obvious as to why his chances were limited. A physically weak fullback (even weaker than Jamie Robson) he was part of the side that capitulated against Falkirk away in what is easily one of the club’s worst ever results.
Unbelievably Mason has landed on his feet and is currently playing for Coventry City after being released by Watford. He has played a number of times this season which suggests he is a first-team regular.
We signed Scott McDonald from BBC Scotland but we still allowed him to appear for them two or three times a week. On paper he should have been an excellent signing but he only turned out to be a pretty decent one. He was our top scorer but there were times in the season when his form dipped badly and there were also rumours about numerous arguments with the club. To be fair to him he did put in a decent shift as we approached the final few games but it was all a bit too late.
McDonald has since retired and has gone back to BBC Scotland and is also currently appearing in numerous opinion pieces in the Daily Record. Another who has recently criticised the club and Csaba Laszlo.
The Northern Irish goalkeeper joined United in 2016 and was highly thought of at the time. After spending spells out on loan at – Forfar, Clyde, Cliftonville and Elgin the decision was made to release Long from his contract. He is currently at East Fife.
A player that was probably one of the last to graduate from United’s St.John’s High School Academy before it was stopped. He never made any real impact other than being a regular for the Development team and a couple of appearances in last season’s Irn-Bru Cup. After having United he signed for Edinburgh City and has featured regularly for them this season.
I think I maybe only saw McMeekin play once and I’m convinced it was in Sean Dillon’s Testimonial. Signed in 2016 he never made an appearance for the first team. Currently he is a free agent.
A surprise arrival and one of Laszlo’s signings. We knew nothing about him when he arrived and almost nothing about him when he left. He once cost Genoa £45,000. Currently he is a free agent.
Given a runout against Alloa in last season’s Scottish Cup he was seen as a potential rough diamond and a bit of a live-wire. Fans seemed to be intrigued with the skilful attacker but we saw little of him after that and the club didn’t even announce that he had officially left. Currently a free agent.
The James Keatings conundrum. Was he ever actually that good? His time at Tannadice was badly hit by injury and with personal health issues but when he did get a chance in the team he never really showed us anything. We were all genuinely very pleased when he initially signed but it never worked out for him. A number of arguments with Csaba Laszlo, and one particularly bad one at St.Andrews in-front of other players, meant he was frozen out before returning to former club Hamilton. Technically he was a 2018/19 departure but I thought I would include him in this list.
An utterly forgettable player who, like Mikkelsen, had potentially great physical attributes but never actually showed us anything. He floated around the squad, picking up small injuries here and there. A few cameo appearances meant that he only played for us on 14 occasions and in that time he scored a grand total of three goals.
N’Koyi is currently a teammate of Jordie Briels at TOP Oss.
The good Scott Fraser – He was a genuinely gifted footballer with a wand of a left foot and someone, who although was not particularly quick, could glide past players on his day and bang free-kicks into the top corner whenever he felt like it.
The bad Scott Fraser – Someone guilty of playing with no energy or commitment and a player who had no physical presence. He was often caught on the ball and far too often he looked very tired in games and it meant he faded badly late on.
Fraser left us after being at the club since he was ten. I still think on his day he was a fantastic talent who could do wonderful things but the reality is that in a struggling side he was often singled out (and I include myself in that). He needed a break from United. After a short period of uncertainty he signed for English side Burton Albion.
All information correct as of the 8th of October 2018.