After a busy few days at Tannadice it feels as though we are, and this is finally a meaningful statement, ready for a fresh start. With new owner Mark Ogren meeting fans and media for the first time it genuinely seems as though the tide has turned and in the process the undercurrent of doubt, anger, paranoia and frustration has been washed away for the time being. Are we now in a position to get back to speaking about/moaning about the thing we all follow our team for, the football? It looks like.
Dundee United still have a long, long way to go but we can look ahead with cautious but stable optimism.
For the first time in a number of years we have addressed the structure of the club and we now have expertise in the right areas. We will continue to improve on this but for now the short-term goal is to achieve promotion and win back the fans trust and support. In many ways it is really nice that we get to kick-off this fresh start by travelling to Montrose in the Scottish Cup.
Saturday will give supporters the chance to relax and enjoy a change of pace. It is the perfect tonic to what has been a busy and eventful few weeks. It will be a friendly and happy atmosphere with many fans looking forward to the reunion of Jimmy Gomis and Sean Dillon, both Scottish Cup heroes.
With league business out of the way temporarily it will be a great day out and one that will also allow Robbie Neilson to experiment with his side in a game that he will feel we should win regardless of the combination of players on the park.
Neilson spoke early in the week about the importance of the fans and he will be incredibly well backed with around 2,000 United fans expected on Saturday. He has said that he hopes for a good run in the cup and although we all want that we also know that the league is the number one priority. It would however be nice to have a few wins in the competition to help lift the fans and the club after such a torrid few seasons.
By the time you read this we may have made another signing but there is not the same panic for arrivals given the break in the league and the recent additions to the squad. We probably need maybe two or three more players in the window (based on realistic expectations of numbers). Personally I would like to see at least a right fullback and another striker to leave the squad looking good enough to challenge in the league.
Moving players on is the other task but that takes time and Neilson admitted to fan groups on Monday night that in many ways it can be one of the most difficult things in football as we have players on contracts that are probably higher than their market value and have a long time to run.
With the potential to experiment a little with a lineup I would go for…
The three behind Safranko can all interchange and this is something that we have seen from Neilson in the past. I don’t think Cammy Smith can play as a wide man but neither can Clark so having the three rotate will give us that freedom. We might also include Ian Harkes but I think that Neilson may resist the temptation to throw him in straight away, leaving him to possibly make a 30 minute cameo towards the end of the match.
For me Fyvie needs rested and we also need to show Aird, McMullan and King that there are new guys in the squad who can take their place with the hope that it gives them a kick. Realistically it might be that one of those three will possibly leave in January.
Defensively there isn’t much we can do as it seems as though Toshney is still far from match-fit despite recent positive news on his injuries. Robson is out of favour and it seems that both Scobbie and Edjenguele are completely gone from the first team squad. Those two alongside Loemba and Barton are probably the main four that the club are working on in terms of leaving Tannadice. There may be others but those four probably take up quite a hefty slice of the wage budget.
Before we wrap this all up it would be remiss of me not to talk a little bit about these two…
One reason that Saturday has taken on even more of a relaxed and happy approach is down to the reunion between two of our biggest contributors in the club’s recent history. Both Sean Dillon and Morgaro Gomis were an integral part of the 2010 Scottish Cup winning squad and both were a big part of the revival we had under Craig Levein. Between them they have played nearly 450 games for the club and when you compare their contribution to some of those that have passed in and out of the Tannadice doors recently, you realise how lucky we were for a number of years.
From a personal point of view Saturday won’t be as happy for me because I am away with family for the weekend and will miss the game. However for everyone going to the match I really hope that these two club legends, and they are legends given the Scottish Cup, get a great reception and I am sure they will.
Who knows, with the new owners, the new sense of optimism and the miracles of football, we can but dream……..