Well a big thank you to anyone who read the last post in this series. It was written a couple of months ago and you can find it here. It was one of the toughest thing I’ve written for this blog. Not just because it was an incredibly long post (4000 words and 30 players) but because of how angry and disappointed it made me. I love this club and to look back at such a difficult season was not easy. Unfortunately there is still some negativity to be contained within this post because for many, the half-way point in the 2014/15 campaign was when things started to unravel….
In mid-January 2015 the then Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson was in the midst of a potential Newcastle Jets takeover bid in Australia and he was spending much of his energy on this and some of his time overseas trying to make this deal happen. In the same period it was suggested that Celtic had been bidding for both Stuart Armstrong and Gary MacKay-Steven. The club not only denied that there had been any bids but they also said that the pair wouldn’t be leaving and that they didn’t need to be sold due to the club’s healthy finances.
Then, hours after the transfer deadline closed we were told that both players had indeed left the club. It was the beginning of the end for Thompson and it kick-started our spiral of decline that left the club in a mess that we are still recovering from.
Moving on from that and to the players from 2014/15 we can actually look at some more positive stuff. I will enjoy writing about some of those listed below because I loved watching them play for United and there isn’t really anyone on this list that I would say I hold a grudge with (apart from you Brian Graham, nobody likes you).
There is a hell of a lot of talent in this blog post and you can’t really be surprised that the team started to fall apart after losing so much of it in such a short spell (and then for the chairman and manager to not properly re-invest and plan for the next stage of the team).
As with the previous posts a reminder that the format is that these are the players that LEFT the club either during, or at the end, of this 2014/15 season (so, August 2014 – June 2015). Ryan Gauld for example would come under the 2013/14 list as he left in July 2014, before the 14/15 season started.
I actually have a lot of love for ‘Rado’. He wasn’t perfect but I always felt like he had a genuine care and passion for the club. As a goalkeeper he was prone to the odd massive howler and he was not in command of his penalty box but as a natural shot stopper he was very good. Given the quality of goalkeeper we’ve had since his departure I would probably rank him higher than everyone who has occupied that position post-Rado.
Since leaving Tannadice at the end of his contract he has had a very solid time of it back in Poland. Initially he played for Wisla Krakow but moved to Legia Warsaw in 2016 and has been there ever since (albeit not as number one). He has won three Polish league titles and two Polish cups with Warsaw.
I remember when we signed him we all thought, “this guy looks mental” and then when we saw him play we all realised, he WAS mental! A genuinely frightening central defender who, on his day, was as dominant as you could be in that position. His form wasn’t always perfect but by christ was he someone the fans loved and a player that should always be the template for a big, bad, bald centre-half.
At 31 he is still very much playing and has been back in Poland since leaving us. He has remained at the same club, top-flight Pogon Szczecin.
We miss you, you big mad bastard.
Poor Conor Townsend, the boy who had to live up to a horrendously good list of left-backs that were previously at the club. Kalvenes, Douglas, Dixon, and most obviously Andy Robertson were all still fresh in the minds of United fans when Townsend arrived on-loan as a young, raw defender. He obviously found it very difficult to live up to the players who were there before him but you could see that he had talent. His loan spell could probably be described as solid but unspectacular.
Townsend has actually developed into a very decent left-back and is currently in the English Championship. After United he went out on loan again but signed permanently for Scunthorpe in 2016. After a very successful spell with them he attracted interest from his former team Hull but opted to move to West Brom.
Mark Wilson left United in 2006 as a hugely promising right-back and someone who many of us felt could have gone on to represent Scotland regularly and really make a name for himself. He did have a decent career at Celtic but was always in and out of the team which meant he never fulfilled his early potential.
After a poor spell down in England with Bristol Rovers we brought him back to Tannadice in the hope that he would give us good experience and at the age of 29/30 it could have been a move to revitalise his career.
Sadly Wilson never really got going and he suffered from the same issues Paul Dixon did when he came back more recently. He had lost a yard of pace and lost a bit of confidence. His stint back at United basically signalled the end of his footballing career.
He has retired but did step into management with Airdrieonians but after leaving them in 2017 he has not been regularly involved with football in a coaching capacity although he does still appear on radio and in print as a pundit.
When Craig Levein was manager at United he declared Keith Watson as a potential star in the making (he labelled him as the best young player he had ever worked with). We all know that things didn’t go to plan for Watson and that is largely due to a horrendous number of injuries.
A silver kisser, and scorer of some important goals, he will always be remembered with fondness by United fans and some will be disappointed that, in a time where we have been short on right-backs, we have not made any attempts to bring him back to Tannadice.
At the moment he is with our Championship rivals Ross County.
He’s back! I don’t need to write much about Butcher, who arrived back at United just a few weeks ago. He was signed by McNamara in 2013 and was handed a three-year deal (which is still an astonishing decision).
Having never really nailed down a position or a role in the United team at that time he has returned as a hard-tackling central midfielder and is someone who has already shown the aggression we knew he had the first time around.
Petrie was a Stirling lad who was at Tannadice for a few years with the youth setup. He failed to make the grade at United and left to join Stirling Albion before making the move higher up the leagues to Dumbarton and then Raith Rovers. He returned to Stirling Albion for the 16/17 season but has been without a club since then and although I thought I remembered him possibly signing for a junior side recently I can’t see if that is true or not.
Nobody can fault Gardyne for effort and some, myself included, always thought that he was maybe not ever given a fair chance at United. When he signed most thought that he would be a good addition to the attacking area but it always felt like he was being used more as a sub and then his chances became even more limited as time went on.
Like Keith Watson, Gardyne is currently at Ross County.
‘GMS’, the Soccer AM Showboat king. It wasn’t always an easy ride for Mackay-Steven at United, he got off to a fairly quiet start when he initially signed but he did establish himself as a huge favourite of the fans under Peter Houston and then McNamara. He made over 100 appearances for us and he undoubtedly has incredible natural talent.
What did go wrong was his last few months at the club when it felt like he had started to fade as interest from Celtic and others materialised.
His move to Celtic didn’t really work out despite some a solid 2015-16 season with the club. Once he started falling down the pecking order it was always inevitable he was going to leave and he signed for Aberdeen in the summer of 2017.
Of all the talent to have emerged in the 2009-2016 era I would say that for me Stuart Armstrong was the most ‘complete’ of them all. I always felt like he had everything a modern midfielder needed and I thought that he would go on to have the best career. His style was always very athletic and dynamic plus he had a maturity and intelligence about him (not to mention wonderful hair).
His departure was huge for the club and although Mackay-Steven leaving at the same time was hard it was the loss of Armstrong that I felt the most.
After initially struggling to hold a place in the Celtic team, Armstrong became a key player for them a year or so after leaving Tannadice and he also started to push for a regular Scotland place (although that has only now started to properly materialise).
Armstrong is ambitious and made the decision last season to move away from Scotland to have a go at the English Premiership with Southampton. I really hope he becomes the player I think he can be and I still think he has the potential to be a Scotland mainstay and top-level footballer alongside someone like Andy Robertson.
How can anyone sum up Nadir Ciftci? An incredibly talented, frustrating, explosive and passionate figure, the Turkish mad man was one of the few big highlights in Jackie McNamara’s transfer dealings. Having plucked him from nowhere, Ciftci became a firm fans favourite and always showed his passion for the club.
Ciftci’s biggest moment for United came at Ibrox when he scored his infamous tap-in whilst celebrating before the ball was in the net. Having just watched back the highlights of that ‘neutral’ semi-final it brought back so many great memories that this side provided. They really should have won the Scottish Cup.
Ciftci went the same way as Mackay-Steven and Armstrong by heading to Celtic. It is fair to say that he bombed out at Parkhead and his career since has been a rag-tag collection of fits and starts. He is currently in his homeland playing for Genclegrbirligi.
A target man in the mould of Emily Lyng and Thomas Mikkelsen. A man who got smaller as he jumped. A man who managed to twist and manoeuvre his body into one of the most amazing positions we have ever seen (please see image below).
Brian Graham was not very good and it didn’t that he appeared to be a bit of a sulk and someone who fell out badly with McNamara during a pre-season tour of Holland.
Despite his limitations he has continually found employment and like half of the other players here he currently plays in Dingwall for Ross County.
Arrived in the deal that also brought Calum Butcher to the club and he was also bizarrely given a three-year contract.
Oyenuga was, let’s be honest, rubbish. He hardly played for us so that is okay but to hand someone like him such a long contract was astonishing. Not much more to say about him other than his clubs since leaving us have included – Greenock Morton, Hartlepool, Chelmsford, Dartford and Haringey Borough (yes, THE Haringey Borough).
I can’t find a particularly up-to-date picture of Oyenuga so here is an image of his current home pitch…
A youth player at United, arriving via Perth Glory. He failed to make an impression at Tannadice and was released after short loan spells with Montrose and Dunfermline. I can’t find any information about what he is doing but he seems to be unattached and hasn’t been registered with a club since 2014.
I think that is about it. There may be one or two others from the youth team that I missed but as for first-team players the list should be complete.
Stay tuned for 2013/14!