Welcome back! The last post about the 2017/18 squad went down well (and thank you to everyone who contacted me to tell me that Harry Lewis was still alive). We now turn our attention to the 2016/17 group and our first year in the Scottish Championship. This squad was actually pretty close to getting us back up to the Premiership given the playoff final against Hamilton and things may have been different if we were awarded a penalty in the first leg and we didn’t run out of energy in the second.
The following list is of the players who left Tannadice either during, or at the end, of the 2016/17 season.
Cammy Bell should have been a great signing for us. It felt at the time like we were building a really solid foundation when he arrived at the club but other than the incredible triple penalty save at Dunfermline it was always the case that he was error prone and he never really looked too happy at the club. The general consensus was that he didn’t enjoy the long commute to Dundee and as a result he left after United announced his availability via a now infamous Twitter post.
After initially re-signing with Kilmarnock he didn’t manage to force his way into their first team so he moved to Partick Thistle at the start of this season.
I’ll nail my colours to the mast here. I’m very much a Sean Dillon type of guy. Yes he faded badly in the last couple of seasons at the club and yes he was always guilty of being a bit too nice on the park but we need to remember that for a number of years he was a reliable and consistent performer in a good United side that won the Scottish Cup during his time at Tannadice. A great professional he was also someone who gave up a huge amount of his personal time to help the local community.
After a well deserved testimonial things didn’t really end particularly well for Dillon. A few injury problems and then an ill-advised argument with some fans after the Hamilton playoff meant he left the club with a bit of a whimper.
After turning down a couple of full-time contract offers that might have resulted in him having to move from the local area he decided on a club that would allow him to work part-time but also give him the option of staying close to Dundee. For the past two seasons he has been an almost ever-present for Montrose.
Dixon will always be a United hero (and fan). He played for us over two separate spells, with the 2008-2012 spell being hugely impressive. It was in this first spell that he was arguably the best left-back in Scotland for a while and this resulted in him earning three Scotland caps. His biggest mistake was probably leaving United to join Huddersfield in 2012. It wasn’t wrong for him to try to test himself at a higher level but the move down to England was pretty disastrous for a number of reasons and it set Dixon back and some would argue he never recovered.
Paul Dixon version two, the one that moved back to United in 2015, was a very different player. He never looked like the Dixon who left us in 2012 and in his two and half years back at the club he looked slower, more cumbersome and defensively he was very suspect. His most memorable contribution during this second spell was a late winner against Falkirk in the 2016/17 playoffs. Anyone who was at that game will forever remember the celebrations after his header hit the back of the net.
Dixon currently plays in England for Grimsby Town in League Two.
Remember when United were minutes away from setting an all time clean sheet record for the club and then Coll Donaldson came off the bench to ruin everything? That probably just about sums up everything you need to know about the pre-match warmup free kick expert. A footballer who seemed to love every minute of his time in training but when it came to the actual football stuff he lost all sense of where he was.
A highly rated teenager we signed him at a time when Jackie McNamara thought that he had unlocked the secret to football and that he could identify every new top talent available. It became very apparent, very quickly that Donaldson was not up to much and the fans made him aware of that fact (something he wrote about fairly recently).
Donaldson is currently playing quite well for Inverness Caledonian Thistle and maybe he has now realised that mucking about for a few years at United probably wasn’t helping him.
He also looks a bit like a character from the TV show Silicon Valley.
We signed Blair Spittal from Queen’s Park under the assumption that he would be the latest talent to come out of their youth structure. Initially he played pretty well and it was clear that he had some natural talent but as time wore on it became apparent he was a very McNamara type player, someone who was technically pretty good but with the heart of a mouse and with zero aggression or physicality. He had a great free-kick on him and there were maybe times he was an easy target but in reality he lacked all the psychological and physical attributes that we needed.
Spittal left Tannadice to join Partick Thistle where, for the second season in a row, he got relegated. He is currently still at Firhill.
Talking of physical and mental attributes we move on to someone who had a great deal of heart but not a huge amount of technical ability. For me Simon Murray was a great impact player in short bursts. He had a couple of real purple patches in form whilst at Tannadice but he was always limited in his ability to maintain that and to take his play to the next level. Despite his limitations he had enough about him to earn a move to Hibs after we failed to win promotion. I thought that Hibs would be the club to develop Murray but after a good start he faded out of their team and ended up leaving them last season to go on loan to Dundee.
After departing Dens he did what most redheads would do and moved to an incredibly hot country where they gets lots of sun. For the last few months Murray has been loving life in South Africa for Bidvest Wits.
A really, really fast player who was really, really lazy. Despite some early flashes of talent the frustrating winger soon fell away and apparently had some big issues with the management as they felt that he basically wasn’t pulling his weight. He only lasted six months at Tannadice before leaving for Oldham.
Strangely Obadeyi is now playing at a pretty decent level in France for Ligue 2 side Sochaux.
The excitement of the January 2017 transfer window reached fever pitch when it was announced late on transfer deadline day that United signed someone at the very last moment. When it was revealed that we had acquired Barnet winger Alex Nicholls the sound of a thousand keyboards taking to the forums could be heard throughout Dundee.
“Who exactly is Alex Nicholls?” we all asked.
We still to this day, do not know the answer.
He left Tannadice an Irn-Bru Cup winner and returned to Barnet before signing for Crewe Alexandra.
He scored number six and cost us a huge amount of money but other than that he was always someone who was nearly good but never good enough. Initially it seemed like Telfer was going to be a great piece of business for United. Highly rated with a good pedigree after coming through the ranks at Rangers but he never really performed to a level that we all hoped he would.
Initially Telfer made a positive move by leaving Scotland to try his luck with Dutch club Almere City but he decided to leave them this summer and return home. In June he became one of Ray McKinnon’s early signings for Greenock Morton.
Ray McKinnon’s tenure at Tannadice was littered with mistakes but for me and many others one of the biggest was not getting the most out of Cammy Smith. Truth be told McKinnon badly handled the talented midfielder and we never saw the best of Smith other than a fantastic display against then Premiership side Patrick Thistle in the League Cup.
Smith’s loan spell from Aberdeen was cut short in the January and he then moved to St.Mirren and almost immediately became one of the best players in the league. He is still with St.Mirren after signing for them permanently in May 2017.
Someone who signed for United on a three-year contract at a time when McNamara was handing out deals like that to anyone who showed even a hint of ability. We signed Johnson from FC United of Manchester and he made a number of cameo appearances over a two-year spell at the club.
When McNamara joined York City as manager he decided to bring Johnson to the club on loan but things did not work out and the young winger was released from his loan contract and then permanent contract at United. As far as I can tell he is currently unattached and has been without a club for almost two years.
What is there to say about Wato Kuate? He arrived out of nowhere and made his sort-of debut in Sean Dillon’s testimonial. After then being thrown into the team for the promotion playoffs he scored a wonder goal against Greenock Morton complete with a celebration that resulted in him running the entire length of the field to be with the United fans. Instantly he became an online cult figure after a bonkers interview with the BBC before then playing unbelievably poorly against Falkirk in the next round.
We then beat Falkirk after Paul Dixon’s late header which started an astoundingly bizarre on pitch celebration by Kuate in front of the supporters. The final, and most memorable chapter of Kuate’s United career came at Tannadice against Hamilton. After a really poor performance he ended up arguing with Sean Dillon and Mark Durnan before then being substituted off. As he left the field he made several gestures to the fans and unsurprisingly he was met with a torrent of abuse. We terminated his contract almost immediately after the match.
I actually watched the footage back whilst writing this and I remember at the time just how angry I was that someone so arrogant could jeopardise such a huge game for the club.
Kuate played in Israel before moving to Finland where his contract was terminated due to his behaviour and ego. Currently he is in Italy playing for third division side Bisceglie Calico 1913.
Andreu was a really strange one in many ways. When we signed him I remember that almost every other club in Scotland seemed to be very jealous. He then had a brilliant first few months and was probably our key player in the early part of the season. Unfortunately when we needed him most he seemed to fade really badly and his form was really poor in the last couple of months of the campaign. On paper he should have been the difference maker but despite a few amazing flashes and a small handful of great performances he probably never quite fulfilled his potential at Tannadice.
For the past two seasons Andreu has been playing for Coventry City.
Frank van der Struijk
There isn’t a huge amount to say about the Dutchman who arrived hoping to improve our defence. He spent a large amount of time on the sidelines and was never really particularly impressive.
As far as I can see he might be playing for ODC Boxtel, an amateur Dutch team.
I think most fans wanted to really like Anier but truth be told he was not very good. He scored a dramatic double as United beat Ross County in the Scottish Cup but that was the year we were relegated and despite that being a great win it was quickly forgotten given our league concerns.
Anier didn’t last long under McKinnon and was released in the August of the 2016/17 season. After initially heading to Sweden he returned to Scotland to play for Inverness but his spell there was very brief. At the moment he is in Finland playing for FC Lahti.
Another player who McNamara probably thought was going to develop into a megastar and make him a decent wedge. I’ll always remember the opening game of the 2015/16 season when Jackie started with a defensive pairing of Durnan and Donaldson with Zwick in the goal. Ultimately it was planning like this that resulted in our relegation. Not that I have anything against Zwick, he just wasn’t good enough and he was very young at the time and should never have been put in that situation.
We released the young German at the end of 2016/17 and he returned home. Since leaving Tannadice he has actually been at some pretty big clubs but has never quite made the grade. Initially with Hansa Rostock he was sent out on loan to Hertha Berlin’s second side but was unsuccessful during this short spell. In August of this year he joined 4th division side FSV Optik Rathenow.
For some Coote was the last of the prospects from the St.John’s/Cathro conveyor belt. We probably never really witnessed a Coote that stood out but he was always highly rated by those at the club. The problems at Tannadice, and the fact that we got relegated, probably meant that we were never really going to be able to provide Coote with the right kind of environment to develop.
It felt like there were strange goings on late in the 2016/17 season and if I remember correctly there were rumours about the club saying Coote was injured bu the player declaring himself fit. At the end of the campaign he moved down to England and join Brentford as part of their ‘B’ team. He is still there but has yet to make a first team appearance.
Nick van der Velden
A strange player and someone who probably could have contributed so much more to the club. He was signed by Ray McKinnon as a technical number 10 type player but was rarely used in that position. When he was he looked pretty decent and he had undoubted quality but far too often he was played as a winger or as a striker.
I got the impression that he was very frustrated at United and he was maybe angry that he was signed to play a role and then never used in that position. He left the club in strange circumstances after initially announcing that he was going to retire at the end of the season. Then, all of a sudden, van der Velden headed to Bali to play for Willo Flood’s Bali United. He’s been there ever since and if his Instagram account is anything to go by he’s loving life.
A young midfielder who played twice in the season we were relegated but did not feature in the Championship league campaign. After we released Smith he signed for Cowdenbeath and is still at the League Two club.
The freakishly tall younger brother of John Souttar and someone who United had huge hopes for. Sensibly he decided the best thing for his career was to leave a club in turmoil to develop himself elsewhere. Before he made a single appearance for United in the Championship he left Tannadice to join Stoke City for a rumoured fee of around £200,000. He spent last season on loan at Ross County and at 19 there is still plenty of time for him to develop.