In the land of Steak Bridies an 1800+ strong Tangerine horde descended on East End Park to see if Robbie Neilson could continue his impressive start as United manager.With Dunfermline away being a favourite trip for many an Arab, would the players step up to plate?
One thing that is noticeable about the last three weeks is that Neilson seems to have a settled group and it looks like that we have a structured starting eleven when all of the players are available. You could argue for Clark to be included but Neilson seems to have a team in mind for the time being. It is this type of continuity that can only help the squad, especially when we are playing well and picking up points. Laszlo’s tombola is well and truly in the bin.
As for the game yesterday this might initially sound a tad harsh but it was probably the poorest we’ve been under Neilson. That’s not to say we were rubbish, we most certainly were not, but we did take a bit of time to get going. Once we did hit our stride we managed to overwhelm Dunfermline and forced them into making mistakes that proved costly. In the end it was another positive performance and we were very comfortable despite a fairly slow start. It is also true that Neilson’s poorest is still a million times more enjoyable to watch than Laszlo’s best. The simple fact is that the players are working harder and the fans are loving it. Football fans can be a difficult bunch to please but by and large all we ask for is commitment, a will to win and a resilience when the pressure is on. So far we have seen all of these things in abundance from Neilson and the players.
One huge plus point from yesterday was the fantastic support. We always take good numbers to Dunfermline but yesterday it was a very vocal crowd and it was a pleasure to be a part of it. I have said before that Neilson is good at managing the fans and he was again yesterday full of praise for the supporters. This is a co-operative effort from the players and those following the team and we all seem to be working together. Whisper it, but at the moment it is quite enjoyable being a United fan.
There is still work to be done and it is early days but we are gathering some real momentum as we continue to make our way through some very important and very tough fixtures. With Queen of the South visiting next Saturday we could put ourselves in a fantastic position as we travel to Dingwall the following week. Before then we need to sit back and watch other teams play as there is a fixture card midweek that we are not involved in. Fingers crossed that Ray McKinnon’s Falkirk can do the unthinkable and get a result against County plus hopefully Ayr can slip up to Alloa at home. We need to look after our own business but we will also need some help along the way.
Player Ratings –
1 – Benji Siegrist – Dealt with things very well yesterday and he looked much more confident. 7
2 – Stewart Murdoch – An easy target but to give him credit he has put in a couple of solid displays under Neilson. Decent again yesterday. 6
19 – Rachid Bouhenna – Yet another very assured performance at the heart of the defence. He was strong in the air as always and looks a class act at times. 6
4 – Frederic Frans – For someone so tall he doesn’t dominate in the air and isn’t as physically aggressive as he should be. Still had a solid enough game though. 6
3 – Callum Booth – In the same boat as Murdoch, has played pretty well in all of Neilson’s games in charge. First choice left-back now. 6
8 – Fraser Fyvie – Thankfully now looking match sharp his quality is evident and beginning to show. Fingers crossed that is him now fully fit and ready for the whole season. 7
12 – Sam Stanton – Maybe a bit quieter than usual but still an important part of the team and always full of running. 6
7 – Paul McMullan – A bit of a revelation under Neilson so far. Works incredibly hard and always willing to drive with the ball. Took his goal well yesterday. 8
11 – Billy King – He did really well for his goal and he is now looking fit but he still maybe doesn’t get as involved as he could, especially when you compare him to McMullan or Aird. Still had a decent game though. 7
33 – Fraser Aird – Great delivery from set-pieces and a real asset when he is sharp and looking to get forward. Probably used the abuse he was getting from the Dunfermline fans as motivation and it worked! 7
14 – Pavol Šafranko – I’ll run out of things to say about Safranko but he really is our key player at the moment. He offers so much and allows others to break froward with his hold up play and his aggressive style. If somehow we could get him on a permanent deal we should be doing everything we can to make that happen. 8
9. Craig Curran – Had two or three minutes on the park and didn’t make an impact.
20. Christoph Rabistch – Did okay when he came on. Acted as a cover for the back four.
10. Nicky Clark – Still maybe trying to get match sharpness back. Tried to get involved as much as possible.
Man of the Match – Quite a few nominations for this. Everyone in the team gets pass marks but three or four did particularly well. I thought Siegrist was very comfortable in the goal and made a few important calls. We also looked good going forward with McMullan and Aird putting in a real shift to help the team. McMullan in particular is looking like a different player and maybe some would give him this award. Fraser Fyvie is beginning to show his class once more and the fullbacks both had a solid afternoon. For me though I can’t look past Pavol Safranko. He had a fairly quiet opening spell but he grew into the game. His work ethic is outstanding and he always puts pressure on defenders. Much of his off the ball work is very, very important and he is also a really clever player when it comes to using the ball and finding other people.
Up Next – A home fixture against Queen of the South. Our home form this season has been very poor so far with only one win in five. We must get things going at Tannadice because with the momentum behind the fans it will not only help the atmosphere at the club it will also begin to bring in a bit more money with more people paying at the gate to come and watch United. We can definitely beat Queen of the South and did so with ease earlier in the season. Three points would set us up for our away trip at County.
Championship Results –
Dunfermline Athletic 0 – 2 Dundee United
Ross County 5 – 0 Greenock Morton
Partick Thistle 0 – 1 Ayr United
Queen of the South 2 – 0 Falkirk
Alloa Athletic 0 – 0 Inverness Caledonian Thistle