Match Review – Alloa Athletic vs Dundee United

I had originally planned to start this post with some festive cheer along the lines of “I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas” and “Wishing you all the best for 2019” but given my mood I’m going to abandon that. Yesterday was tough to take and in the context of the January window starting in just a couple of days it could be the end of the road for some of those on the park yesterday.

The match against Alloa was one of those that makes you wonder why you bother with it all. It was yet again a United display that left me, and the 1000 others who made the journey, ‘scunnered’. It isn’t the first time we’ve felt this way during the campaign and it is yet another example of United showing that they lack the resilience to see things through. The mental fragility in this squad will prevent us from gaining promotion. Neilson has a massive job on his hands.

The performance for 80 minutes yesterday was technically ‘okay’. It was a 5 out of 10 type display where we largely dominated possession but created very little and failed to test the Alloa defence often enough. It wasn’t terrible but it was pretty poor.

The difficulty in playing this way is that every single team in this division has the capability of sensing that weakness and fragility and they can punish you. Yesterday was the poorest I’ve seen Alloa play this season but yet they still managed to deliver a sucker punch of epic proportions and one that vividly highlights the weaknesses in this squad. They had the character and determination to snatch a victory despite the odds being against them. How often have we seen that from United?

Thankfully in the post-match interviews Robbie Neilson started to let the “I trust this squad” mask slip. He was honest and upfront about the need for a large number of changes over the next few weeks and the performance levels (plus result) means that the ears of the new owner will be burning even more as Neilson will demand the money to give him the flexibility he needs in the window.

Neilson will have already told a few players that they will no longer play for Dundee United and we may hear news of departures and arrivals within the next day or so. Things need to happen quickly.

Will wholesale changes be enough? It is still too early to tell but time is not going to be on our side for much longer. We are yet again looking at a major rebuild but the fixtures will continue to arrive and we are now at the stage that we cannot afford many more slip ups. We are 7 points behind the leaders and that is not a gap that will disappear anytime soon.

The perfect window for me would mean the arrival of about 6 players and the departure of at least four or five. Yes we could argue that those numbers could be larger but the timescale and finances means that a complete squad overhaul is unlikely but we can still hope for half a dozen new players. The reality is that this is a long-term rebuild and there will only be so much we can do in four weeks (and the calibre of player available to us might hinder our chances also).

As fans we are fed up of being ‘scunnered’. We all know that teams lose matches but the manner in which we lost is something that fans don’t forget. Far too often we have seen this United squad capitulate and fold when the pressure is on. It cannot continue.

Player Ratings – 

1 – Benji Siegrist – For 60 or so minutes he had nothing to do and then he was culpable for the equaliser. A stupid mistake and one that cost us. 3

2 – Stewart Murdoch – Again very comfortable for 80% of the match and then was beaten all ends up for the Alloa winner. 5

4 – Frederic Frans – This is getting repetitive but he was also someone who cruised most of the match until Alloa started to press us. 5

44 – Paul Watson – As basic as defenders get and like those around him he buckled when the pressure was piling on late in the game. 5

3 – Callum Booth – The best of the back four in terms of trying to get involved but his crossing let him down. Always offered the overlap and scored a cracking free kick. 5

19 – Rachid Bouhenna – Used as an emergency midfielder in the absence of Fyvie. He is always controlled and calm in possession but doesn’t have the energy to play that role. 6

12 – Sam Stanton – After last week’s man of the match display he really needed to kick-on and dominate the midfield but sadly he went missing for large spells. 5

7 – Paul McMullan – His end product was woeful and he made the wrong calls at the wrong time. Poor. 4

11 – Billy King – Typical King performance where he shows small flashes but these are totally outweighed with long spells of ineffectiveness. 4

9 – Craig Curran – The absolute definition of an average footballer. Runs about a bit, holds the ball up from time to time but never really has any telling touches or moments that can affect the game. 5

14 – Pavol Šafranko – Very isolated in the first 45 and then guilty of bad decision making in the second-half. A poor afternoon for the striker. 5

Subs – 

33. Fraser Aird – Seems determined to cross the ball as often as possible but never tries to beat his man or get to the byeline.

Man of the Match – A week of having nobody that really deserves a mention here. The biggest issue today was the lack of penetration from the midfield. We have wingers who either can’t cross or can’t beat a man and we don’t have anyone who can play a killer pass or shoot from distance. This then puts pressure on the defence and goalkeeper to remain focused but time and time again we are caught out by terrible decision making and costly errors.

Up Next – We now have two home fixtures on the bounce and it might be that we have some new faces in the team next week as we host second bottom Partick Thistle. NO excuses next Saturday, we NEED three points. 

Championship Results – 

Alloa 2 – 1 Dundee United

Falkirk 2 – 4 Dunfermline

Queen of the South 1 – 1 Ayr United

Partick Thistle 1 – 2 Morton

Ross County 2 – 1 Inverness