Well it is all kicking off just in time for Christmas! What a week it has been for United and for the fans. We are now under the ownership of an American and his son, plus we have seen the departure of Chairman Mike Martin.
There is no doubt what 90% of the chat will be about in the pubs surrounding Tannadice on Saturday and it will almost feel a little like the game itself will be a bit of a sideshow. The ‘go-home’ game before Christmas (I think that is an American term and may be the first of many) is traditionally one in which a number of fans who are home for the holidays might go to. We will hopefully see a bigger than usual crowd and the numbers may also be slightly increased due to this week’s takeover. Hopefully we will have a good atmosphere and the team on the park can give us the three points to send us all home hapy.
At board level the only addition from Wednesday and my blog article (link) is that it seems as though the new man in charge won’t actually visit Tannadice again until January. Ogren has already told the press that he intends to be here in a a couple of weeks and that the meetings he has with Robbie Neilson will be heavily tied into the potential business we carry out in the window.
One obvious and easy change the new Chairman can make is to release money that will help Neilson shape his squad for the league run-in. I would guess that we probably have two or three who may be offered some kind of package to leave the club and we will also hopefully have three or four targets in mind that will be financed. Neilson has spoken about the need for added depth in the middle of the park and an additional attacking threat. If we can have a successful window then the fans will immediately warm to the new owner.
In the short-term the ability to change United’s fortunes will be fairly straightforward. We need money and we need it now. The longer term plans are the ones that become more complicated. If we are to return to the top-flight then the financial landscape changes and the amibitions change. At the moment our target is simple, beyond that the plans become a bit more complicated.
As for the actual game against Falkirk there is no getting away from the fact that it is a massive fixture given our winless run. The reality is that this is one that we really need to be taking maximum points from. Our home form is still pretty dreadful and although we didn’t lose any ground on Ayr or Ross County last week we really do need to be winning matches at home. Our next four games are against the bottom four and three of those games are at Tannadice. Ideally we need to be targeting a maximum return on points.
Possible Starting Lineup vs Falkirk –
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 – Paul McMullan
LM – Craig Curran
ST – Pavol Safranko
Others – When Neilson arrived he talked about the need for consistency in team selections. We have now seen the benefits of that but in recent weeks we have also seen the weakness. This squad is not deep enough in terms of quality and it is beginning to show. Hopefully January yields a positive return because when you look at the 12 or 13 that Neilson relies upon the quality behind that list is painfully weak. We have probably seen the last of Adam Barton and Yannick Loemba plus there are still question marks over the futures of people like Sam Wardrop and Jamie Robson.
Key Player(s) – For the second week in a row I will go for Pavol Safranko. We need goals and we need them now! The injury to Nicky Clark and the form of Craig Curran means that the pressure is on Pavol to make the difference. Hopefully in front of a home crowd he can hit the back of the net tomorrow and get back amongst the goals.
View from the Oppostion – I wrote a blog post about Falkirk this week (here). They are a club in crisis and on Wednesday it was announced that they have been found guilty over their approach for Ray McKinnon and Darren Taylor.
Paul Hartley ripped up the Falkirk squad and started over by bringing in some of the worst players to ever play for the Bairns but to give McKinnon some credit he has steadied the ship and they are in decent form at the moment despite not producing the most exciting football.
Tomorrow will be a big challenge as Falkirk will aim for keeping it solid and steady. These are the games that we tend to struggle in as we don’t have the most fluid of attacking football. It could be a long afternoon…
CURRENT FORM (LAST FOUR LEAGUE GAMES) –
United – 4-2 Win vs Alloa (H), 5-0 Loss vs Ayr United (A), 1-1 Draw vs Morton (A), 1-1 Draw vs Inverness
Falkirk – 1-1 Draw vs Partick Thistle (H), 3-2 Win vs Inverness (A), 2-2 Draw vs Alloa (H), 0-0 Draw vs Morton (H)
CURRENT CHAMPIONSHIP TABLE –