And so we edge towards the end of another very positive week. I can’t truly explain the difference in mood amongst United fans at the moment but the social media landscape and the feeling in the stands is a million miles away from what it was in the weeks before the previous manager’s sacking. That, in part, has been down to Robbie Neilson’s handling of the media. I mentioned this last week but it is worth touching on again, Neilson has played the media perfectly and has worked wonders in lifting the spirits and identity of the United support.
Again today we are met with another series of interview snippets that heap praise on the fans and if football supporters are one thing it’s that we are suckers for a bit of praise. Long may it continue because there is definitely a correlation between the team on the park, their performances and the noises from the stands. It was evident against Dunfermline given the tepid nature of our opening 30 minutes or so. There was no negativity within the support and the singing continued regardless. As a player you must feed off that and it will elevate your confidence and in turn your performance.
One interesting point that Neilson made this week highlighted the basic needs we have when watching our football team. We want passion, we want hard-work and we want energy. He was also keen to point out that football fans are, by and large, okay if their team loses from time to time but the players display those attributes we sorely want. In situations like this and when faced with the press there is such a big difference between Neilson and our previous manager (he who shall not be named).
“There will be days when we make mistakes and we get beat but as long as the players can say they gave everything the fans will be happy because that’s all you can ask of players.”
Another positive from this week was the result in Falkirk on Tuesday night. Ray McKinnon achieved the unthinkable as his side managed to take points from their fixture with Ross County. In reality they should have actually won and what we can take from Tuesday night is that not only are County certainly beatable but that in this league there are still more twists and turns to be had. We didn’t get everything our own way on Tuesday but the results were pretty favourable (Ayr’s win apart). It some ways it might be helpful initially for morale and form if we have two or more teams to catch. It means that every week we can target a win and there is a likelihood that at least one of the teams around us will drop points and if that happens it continues the positive momentum we need.
Tomorrow’s fixture is huge for us and we really do need to take it a game at a time but with the Ross County fixture looming it is so, so important we go into that game with a positive result in the bag. Getting a victory tomorrow will allow us to travel to Dingwall full of confidence.
Team news is fairly straightforward as we probably have the cleanest bill of health we have seen in about a year and a half. Both Jamie Robson and Paul Watson are back training so it means that other than Lewis Toshney there are no actual injuries in the squad, although one or two are still short of match sharpness. With that in mind it is a fairly straightforward decision for Neilson in terms of personnel to face Queen of the South.
Possible Starting Lineup vs Queen of the South –
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 – Billy King
LM – Paul McMullan
ST – Pavol Safranko
Others – We still have four or five players who have yet to make an impact under Neilson. These players need to be ready to step up but other than Nicky Clark and maybe Paul Watson it is still very much the case that for guys like Loemba, Rabitsch, Barton and Robson they will probably have to settle for very little game time over the next few weeks and months (if everyone stays fit) .
Key Player(s) – Our home form is poor and we really need to start scoring more goals at Tannadice. We also can’t solely rely on Pavol Safranko so we need the three in behind to contribute to the goals tally. They have been close on many occasions over the last few games and it looks like McMullan, King and Aird are beginning to find their shooting boots.
View From The Opposition – Undoubtedly the biggest threat on Saturday will be Stephen Dobbie. He is the best player in the league on his day and has single handily won Queen of the South numerous matches so far this season. As a whole the Dumfries side are playing fairly poorly at the moment and have been guilty of leaking goals and allowing teams to cut them open. They are still picking up points but they have defensive frailties and suffered a defeat midweek at home to Morton. You would hope that our high-press will be too much for them to handle and we can emerge with three points.
Current Form (Last Four League Games) –
United – 2-0 Loss vs Ayr Utd (A), 2-1 Win vs Partick (A), 1-1 Draw vs Inverness (H), 2-0 Win vs Dunfermline (A)
Queen of the South – 3-3 Draw vs Alloa (H), 1-0 Loss vs Dunfermline (A), 2-0 Win vs Falkirk (H), 2-1 Loss vs Greenock Morton (H)
The Weekend’s Full Championship Fixture Card –