Look in all seriousness I am going to struggle to fill even 500 words every week if we keep playing well and everything stays so positive. We again have a Saturday night filled with no worries, no drama and no anger, which is taking a bit of getting used to. There is also a whole lot of love on social media and on the forums, so for those who love a moan (or if you are a Dundee fan) then this is not a great time for you.
Today’s first-half was as dominant performance as you are likely to see and it is astonishing that we are watching the same squad, who only weeks ago, were struggling to put in even half-hearted displays of football. Is it man-management, is it fan power, is it just better training and clearer instructions? The answer will be a mixture of all of these things but if you were one of those fans who went today after not being at Tannadice for a few months then you would be within your right to accuse Neilson and the board of plying the players with high doses of performance enhancing drugs such is the improvement in performances levels (hopefully it isn’t drugs…)
The only slight grumble today, and in particular during the first-half, was maybe the lack of clear-cut chances and goals. That will come but the groundwork is being done and we are looking like a team who could seriously push this title race all the way. The anxious, conditioned United fan that I am, there will always be that small voice at the back of my head shouting at me “this will all fall apart” but for the time being I am enjoying the ride as we begin to look like an actual proper football team again and an actual proper football club again. Even my pie was good and it has been a long time since I’ve been able to say that at Tannadice (unless they’ve put drugs in the pies too?)
I’ll be honest the crowd was maybe slightly down on the Inverness fixture which is maybe a tad disappointing but the atmosphere was again relaxed and positive. It makes such a big difference to everyone when you know that the team seem to care more than ever and that the squad have a real sense of unity. Even little things like the reactions from the players when we score and when we win seem to suggest a real sea-change at the club. Everyone is pulling in the same direction but next week we have our biggest test of that new-found togetherness.
It maybe sounds a bit cliché but we really are ‘United‘ at the moment.
Player Ratings –
1 – Benji Siegrist – Didn’t have much direct pressure but had one or two important moments that he dealt with well. His biggest test will come against County next week. 6
2 – Stewart Murdoch – Another who has been a bit of a revelation under Neilson. He had one or two nervy moments today but he has turned in some very solid and assured performances in the last few games. 6
19 – Rachid Bouhenna – There are moments in games when I think that Bouhenna could easily play at a higher level. He shows fantastic technique and great awareness for a defender. Still gets caught out on the turn from time to time. 7
24 – William Edjenguele – The Edge is back! A surprise starter due to the injured Frans but if any supporter had nerves about him starting then his performance proved us all wrong. Just goes to show how different this United squad are under Neilson. 7
3 – Callum Booth – Best game for United by some distance. Looked physically much stronger and he was very good on the ball. It thankfully sounds like his injury is not too serious. 7
8 – Fraser Fyvie – A class act in almost everything he did. We have the best midfielder in the league and on days like this he can totally dominate that area of the park. 8
12 – Sam Stanton – Had a very solid game but I want to see him contribute more going forward, although his role in the team has changed and doesn’t allow for as much attacking movement. 7
7 – Paul McMullan – I don’t know what happens at St.Andrews (maybe it is the drugs) but we seem to have upgraded McMullan to some sort of 2.0 version where he has endless energy and enthusiasm. Long may it continue. 8
11 – Billy King – Ninety minutes under his belt and now almost back to full fitness. Looks a totally different player at the moment and added some good physicality to his game at times. 7
33 – Fraser Aird – Some fantastic crosses into the box and he added yet another assist to his tally for the season. Maybe a little unlucky to be taken off after an hour. 7
14 – Pavol Šafranko – Yet again he showed us real quality, real graft and great determination. Maybe not as busy as he has been but to get another goal was a real bonus for him and for his adoring fans. 7
9. Craig Curran – Physically he looked much stronger and challenged well in the ‘Safranko’ role as a lone striker.
10. Nicky Clark – Looked much sharper and was maybe unlucky not to score with a great redirected header across goal.
5. Adam Barton – A late addition to the squad and a late substitute for the injured Booth. Miracles do happen as he actually made a real tackle!
Man of the Match – For the fourth week in a row it is a case of “take your pick”. We had a team full of 7s and 8s so it is difficult to narrow it to just one. The sponsors gave it to Sam Stanton but I personally would have gone for the man alongside him. We are still not seeing a fully fit Frasr Fyvie but this afternoon we were all treated to a midfield masterclass as he showed all the qualities we know he has. Positional awareness, a range of passing, defensive cover and a cool head to pick the right option almost all the time. I still wince a little anytime he goes in for a challenge but hopefully his injury hell is behind him. Fyvie, Bouhenna and Safranko are possibly our three most important players in terms of quality. Fingers crossed we can keep them fit and able for the majority of the season.
Up Next – The big one. After four weeks of building momentum we now face our biggest test under Neilson as we travel to Dingwall. This hasn’t been a good week for Ross County but they are still probably favourites for the league title and they dismantled us earlier in the season. That was then and this is now. It is a wonderful opportunity for Neilson and his players to show everyone that we are the real deal. We should take a fantastic backing on the long journey up to Dingwall but unfortunately due to a friend of mine doing something silly and falling in love I will be in Pitlochry for a wedding. For those who do get to go, give it all you’ve got and the players will follow. C’mon United!
Championship Results –
Alloa Athletic 0 – 1 Dunfermline Athletic
Greenock Morton 5 – 1 Partick Thistle
Dundee United 2 – 0 Queen of the South
Falkirk 0 – 1 Ayr United
Inverness Caledonian Thistle 2 – 2 Ross County