So I return to my blog after a short break and all of sudden there is an air of positivity around Tannadice. I joked a few months ago that writing about good things is much more difficult and that might prove to be the case. Given the feel good factor in the last fortnight I don’t have much, if anything, to moan about!
Since my last match preview I have been to Berlin and, just like any self respecting football fan, I tried to take in some of the stadiums there. The only reason I am telling you this is to share the following images…
With holiday snaps out of the way let’s move on to this weekend.
A trip to Dunfermline for me will always be about one thing, Steak Bridies. However with the good times returning to United I might be able to add the actual football to that list. Steak Bridies AND football? Life is beautiful.
Although I didn’t make the game last weekend I did keep up-to-date with things and speaking to people this week the same thing gets mentioned over and over. The players worked hard and the fans were relaxed. That’s all we look for isn’t it? Yes the results are the most important thing but to be able to go and watch your team every week knowing that the fans are together and the players are working their socks off is a pretty good benchmark to work with. It is early days and there is still much to be done but it is accurate to say that in the last fortnight Robbie Neilson has already worked wonders in terms of fan relations and lifting the players to a level we’ve rarely seen in the last few seasons.
One thing I very much like about Neilson is that he does not waste his words and he always seems to be able to find a good way of making negatives sound quite positive and constructive. He has been very good with the media and the press which then breeds a bit of confidence in the fans, and you would assume, the players. Interviews are brief but informative and you get the impression that his training sessions reflect this. I am quietly confident about Neilson and I get the feeling that the majority of supporters feel the same.
A very slight negative, or a slight worry in amongst all of this is the fact that we have a very pressing concern with the league campaign at an important stage and with us already playing catch-up. The result on Saturday in isolation was a pretty positive one but points are already so crucial that we cannot really afford to lose much more ground. If Neilson can maintain a really solid run of form it will be vital that we turn draws into victories. Early in his tenure I have full confidence in Neilson’s ability to do this but we are really in need of another striker to act as a foil for the tireless Pavol Safranko. This is hopefully where Nicky Clark can step up but I would still love for us to find a free transfer or target someone in January who could bolster the attack even further.
Some fans have been talking about the anticipation of each game returning and that looking forward to the football has come back again. Long may that continue.
Possible Starting Lineup vs Dunfermline –
GK – Benji Siegrist
RB – Stewart Murdoch
CB – Frederic Frans
CB – Rachid Bouhenna
LB – Callum Booth
CM – Fraser Fyvie
CM – Sam Stanton
RM – Fraser Aird
CAM/CF – Nicky Clark
LM – Paul McMullan
ST – Pavol Safranko
Others – We are looking pretty good at the moment for numbers and you would think that the only problem Neilson has at the moment is over who to pick based on form and on training. That’s a decent place to be as a manager. He might select Paul Watson ahead of Murdoch if he is fit and the only other possible starter would be Billy King but that will probably depend on the fitness of Nicky Clark. Elsewhere it is pretty obvious that already Neilson sees Loemba, Rabitsch, Barton and Robson as backup players.
Key Player(s) – Given the volume of chances we missed against Inverness we need a finisher and a poacher who can make the difference in the penalty box. Step forward Nicky Clark who is probably more of a natural goalscorer than Safranko. If we can find a system that allows those two to flourish then it could be a season defining partnership.
View From The Opposition – A very strange and very underwhelming campaign for Dunfermline. I still look at their squad and see a very decent set of players but they have badly suffered so far and it is a feature of this league that it takes no prionsers if you are not at your best. Does that mean the finger should be pointed at the manager? For me the quality is there so quite possibly and there will be many Dunfermline fans who would agree. If United do take all three points on Saturday we may see the momentum gather for the sacking of Allan Johnston.
Current Form (Last Four League Games) –
United – 5-1 Loss vs Ross County (H), 2-0 Loss vs Ayr Utd (A), 2-1 Win vs Partick (A), 1-1 Draw vs Inverness (H)
Dunfermline – 1-1 Draw vs Morton (A), 1-0 Win vs Partick Thistle (H), 2-0 Win vs Falkirk (A), 1-0 Loss vs Queen of the South (H)
The Weekend’s Full Championship Fixture Card –