With the Americans in town and Jimmy Gomis back at Tannadice would today’s match against Dunfermline be the catalyst to get our title push back on track?
The answer (and this may shock you) was (potentially) YES!
Let’s get the negatives out the way first before we begin to enjoy our evening. Today’s match was a turgid affair with very little quality on show and two average teams trying their best to put Mark Ogren off football for life. However, in the scheme of things and given the results elsewhere, it has been a potentially massive afternoon of football for Dundee United.
If you were at Tannadice you will understand what I mean with the use of the word turgid but in all honesty it was pretty rotten stuff. Neither team could work their way to goal and both sets of players were guilty of misplaced passes and poor decision making. It wasn’t a great spectacle for our new Chairman but the relief and the noise created when the goal went in will have hopefully lifted his spirits and made an impression on him as he surveyed his side and his club for the first time as owner.
Footballing wise for me the issues that face us currently revolve quite heavily around the midfield two. I have always been an advocate of what Sam Stanton can bring to the team and believe Fraser Fyvie is a quality player. However, Stanton has been very quiet for a few weeks and there seems to be something about Fyvie that is missing at the moment. He looks unfit and a bit lost in the middle of the park. He really should be dominating games given his ability. As club captain he has pressure on him and he cut a forlorn figure at the end of the match as he didn’t clap the fans or spend much time with his teammates. Hopefully it is maybe just a dip in confidence and he can get that quality back as quickly as possible.
Our new signing Cammy Smith showed some flashes of the direct running and midfield skill that we badly need and it was great to see Nicky Clark in the squad as a surprise inclusion and eventual match winner.
The omissions from today’s team could tell a story given Neilson insisted that everyone was fit and available. We had no Aird or Rabitsch and ‘The Edge’ hasn’t been seen in a couple of weeks. Do we now have a list of players who are indeed on the manager’s ‘not needed’ pile? That would mean Loemba, Barton, Aird, Edjenguele and Rabitsch may all be looking for new clubs or might leave within the next few weeks.
To sum up, today was pretty rubbish on the pitch but with County and Ayr losing it is a fantastic shot in the arm for our title ambitions and it gives us real hope again (although that is usually when United decide to let us down!)
This league is up for grabs and it is a race to see who is least terrible given the quality of sides in the division. Bring it on!
Player Ratings –
1 – Benji Siegrist – An assured performance but not troubled very often. I really like his instinct to release the ball quickly when we are working our way forward. 6
2 – Stewart Murdoch – Not great today. A few errors and a couple of very strange decisions. Went off injured. 3
4 – Frederic Frans – Fairly comfortable and did very well late on when the pressure was on in the last ten minutes. 5
19 – Rachid Bouhenna – Seemed to see a lot of the ball and was guilty of some ambitious passes that went astray. Did well in the last ten minutes when we were under pressure. 5
3 – Callum Booth – Similar to Murdoch but a bit better than his fellow fullback. 4
8 – Fraser Fyvie – As I mentioned earlier he looks a shadow of his former self at the moment. Hopefully he gets back to form soon. 4
12 – Sam Stanton – Got stuck in late in the game when we needed to see things out but still not involved enough. 5
7 – Paul McMullan – A typical McMullan game as he showed lots of endeavour but lacked the final ball with poor decision making. 4
16 – Matty Smith – Looked out of his depth unfortunately and was overrun anytime he was on the ball. Taken off at half-time. 3
25 – Cammy Smith – Had two or three bursting runs that show what he is capable of and what we need. Looked exhausted by the end. 5
14 – Pavol Šafranko – Quiet for long spells but his work off the ball and his determination to win the ball is still as fantastic as ever. This was summed up as he cleared the box late on as we were defending and celebrated like he had scored! 6
10. Nicky Clark – A surprise in the squad and scored the winner. Easy!
15. Aidan Nesbitt – Couldn’t get going and he probably now needs to start a few games to get into the swing of things.
44. Paul Watson – Came on for the injured Murdoch and made some good interceptions as we had to see the game out.
Man of the Match – Purely to wind up the Dunfermline fans the sponsors gave this to Nicky Clark and it is maybe the right call in a way given he managed to give us that final bit of quality we needed once we did create a goalscoring chance.
Up Next – A vital break in league duty as we play Montrose in the Scottish Cup next Saturday. For all you Sean Dillon and Jimmy Gomis fans it will be a great day out and one that the fans can relax and enjoy. For the club it means we now have a bit more time to look at any transfer targets and for any further changes to the staffing or infrastructure.
Next week (Monday and Tuesday) also sees Mark Ogren and the new senior staff meet the fans and the press for the first time.
Championship Results –
Alloa Athletic 2 – 1 Greenock Morton
Dundee United 1 – 0 Dunfermline Athletic
Inverness 1 – 0 Ayr United
Queen of the South 4 – 0 Ross County
Partick 1 – 1 Falkirk