The 8th of March 2020. The last time I published anything. At the time I decided to take a break for some personal reasons, but then a global crisis decided to shut everything down anyway.
You would think that a pandemic and being stuck in the house would have afforded me the time write, and write, and write, but no. I have procrastinated to within an inch of my life, but the motivation to write just hasn’t been there. It isn’t anyone’s fault, the current global situation has provided little football to write about and in general it has divided all of us into a couple of fairly distinct camps. On one hand you have the people that have used the lockdown to learn new skills and appreciate the little things in life. Get fit using no equipment and just an open space? Easy. Learn to cook? Bosh. Beechgrove Garden the shit out of your lawn? Charlie Dimmocked out your nut.
Me? I fall into the other category. The ‘I gave PE with Joe Wicks ten minutes and found him a bit too enthusiastic’ camp. The ‘you mean they will deliver the beer on the SAME DAY?!?’ camp. The ‘Posted on Facebook – I’ve tried 47 different takeaways these last two weeks, any other suggestions for good food in Dundee?’ camp. I’m now brilliant at watering the grass but that is about it.
Yes, lockdown has removed all the little footballing distractions I have and without the beautiful game I realised very early on that I don’t actually ‘do’ very much else. So maybe, 17 and half months into lockdown, it is time to start thinking ahead. To start dreaming about the future and planning for season 2020/21.
Who knows when the next campaign will actually start, or when next we can walk through a turnstile (a Macaroni Pie with Mustard? It only exists in my dreams) but this post aims to be a ‘live’ blog that will be updated over the next few months. Updated, like I do every year, this summary will be a page with any news and announcements from Tannadice (with a bit of opinion mixed in). Technically the transfer window is now open and technically the league has been given a start date but we all know that things could change…
So, ‘Dundee United Summer 2020‘, let’s go.
Just a tiny, tiny little look back at last season and some other little ramblings that pop into my head. It is a challenge to find the right tone in a post like this. I don’t want to dwell on the negatives, the challenges and the difficulties, but it is also impossible not to think about the last couple of months and the potential long-term impact of this horrible, horrible situation. Scottish football is in a difficult place and does not have the luxury afforded to the Bundesliga and English Premiership. We have very little in the way of sponsorship and TV money to keep things going, so the authorities need to think on their feet and find a solution to help everyone. Easy…
Moving on though, let’s focus on something else briefly – The fact is, that after some very tough, very emotional and very damaging years, we are back in the top-flight. Finally!!!!!!!!!
Look, it wasn’t an ideal way to gain promotion. A last-minute winner to send the United up? Yes please. A comprehensive win in the final derby at Dens to seal promotion? Superb.
Of course, none of that was possible and although it would have been better to see the season out and win the title in the ‘natural’ way, it is what it is. Could you imagine how good it would have been to see a glorious final-day packed out Tannadice with the trophy being lifting? Of course you can. It’s what we all pictured up until the middle of March.
However, given the Kuate meltdowns, the missed penalties, the Falkirk pumpings, the Laszlo rants, the board room antics, the disasters, the Alloa away trips and the near misses – I don’t care how we actually got there, we got there.
Last season we finally welcomed back a proper United team with a genuine sense of team spirit and unity. A real ethos of determination and a winning mentality. Yes we lost games, yes we went on poor runs, but we always looked at this squad and knew that they were very different than the sides we had seen in previous campaigns. It is also a different club, and for the better.
Next year will be very different but one thing I feel confident about is the culture shift at Tannadice being powerful enough to carry us forward. The players seem like they genuinely support one another, plus we have a structure in place that should continue to breed professionalism and a strong mentality.
I recently watched a documentary about the Brazilian national team, and at the very start, the manager, Tite, said that his teams need to show bravery. He used a line that sums up what I want to see in any United side. Accepting the fact that we won’t always win, we at least need to see signs of strength and a togetherness. We need to see that the club are in a good place and that we keep fighting.
We are there now –
“You can lose, but don’t be losers.”
*signings highlighted in orange
Benji Siegrist – Contracted until June 2022
Deniz Mehmet – Contracted until June 2022
Jack Newman – Contracted until June 2022
Jamie Robson – Contracted until June 2022
Mark Reynolds – Contracted until June 2022
Mark Connolly – Contracted until June 2021
Liam Smith – Contracted until June 2021
Adrian Sporle – Contracted until June 2022
Ross Graham – Contracted until June 2022
Lewis Neilson – Contracted until June 2022
Kieran Freeman – Contracted until June 2022
Ryan Edwards – Contracted until (June 2022)
Paul McMullan – Contracted until June 2021
Calum Butcher – Contracted until June 2023
Cammy Smith – Contracted until January 2021
Ian Harkes – Contracted until June 2022
Peter Pawlett – Contracted until June 2021
Adam King – Contracted until June 2022
Declan Glass – Contracted until June 2022
Logan Chalmers – Contracted until June 2022
Chris Mochrie – Contracted until June 2022
Dillon Powers – Contracted until June 2021
Luke Bolton – Loan Singing – June 2021
Nicky Clark – Contracted until June 2021
Lawrence Shankland – Contracted until June 2022
Louis Appere – Contracted until June 2022
Logan Chalmers – Contracted until June 2022
The Current Climate
I actually feel quite reassured about the nature of our squad in terms of the work that needs to be done and the contract security we actually have in the team. Yes we will need reinforcements but when you read of other clubs shedding dozens of players due to the uncertainty of contracts and transfers, we might actually be in a slightly stronger position than we originally thought. We don’t have huge numbers leaving and that could help us move forward with the momentum and continuity of the squad.
I want to keep this slot for actual signings, so no rumours will be posted here…
Nobody confirmed at the time of writing.
As expected the club released players on the expiration of their contract. Personally I would have maybe argued for Paul Watson to be given an extension as a reward for his form last season but I do understand that in the current climate it is difficult for clubs to be handing out contracts unless they are absolutely certain they can honour them and that the player will make a significant contribution moving forward.
This is a very difficult time for everyone and the world of football can be very challenging at the best of times in terms of trying to secure contracts and new deals. I am sure that I speak on behalf of United fans everywhere when I say that I wish the following players all the very best in their careers moving forward.
The players released by United at the end of the 19/20 season –
– Rakish Bingham
– Osman Sow
– Sam Wardrop
– Paul Watson
Plus the following youth players – Fraser Currid, Josh Donaldson, Alassan Jones, Michael McArthur.
Hopefully you all secure something soon. Arabest and thank you for your efforts in Tangerine.
I want to keep each section fairly current, so I won’t forensically go over news from weeks and weeks ago. I will also absolutely not be going into ‘StatementMania 2020’ and all the reconstruction/SPFL chat. Honestly, I love Scottish football, but it really can suck the absolute life out of you at times.
Anyway, although this bit is about the here and now it is important to point out a couple of things before we start from ‘today’.
Mal Brannigan, Managing Director, left the club at the start of May. Having joined at the same time as the new regime, Mal was, on the face of things, doing a perfectly fine job and never really courted any controversy or negativity up until his departure. This blog is purely for information (and one that I want to keep positive) so I don’t really want to talk through things that I don’t fully understand or know about in any great detail. What we do know is that we now find ourselves probably needing to bring in someone soon who can oversee many of the commercial and business aspects of the club. I’d be happy to do it of course, but given my exploits these last few months I would maybe be more suited to the job of superbly watering the grass.
On the youth front we continue to develop at a fairly rapid (and very positive) pace. Not only do we now have the DUSF back on board and pressing ahead with a ballot on the release of funds that would eventually result in investment into the youth, we have also seen our Youth Academy form an official link with Baldragon Academy.
The new partnership will see many of the club’s best young talent move to Baldragon and it will allow them access to additional coaching and specialised development. Investing in youth is absolutely the right thing to do and it will safeguard the future talent coming through at Tannadice. I wish Andy Goldie and the rest of the Academy staff all the very best with this next, exciting, step forward.
Update – June 3rd
As mentioned above, the Dundee United Supporters Foundation had been balloting members about a £100,000+ donation to the club, which would serve the purpose of initial cashflow and then eventually be transformed into a donation towards the youth development at Tannadice.
That ballot has been completed and the members have overwhelmingly supported to motion. This means that funds will now be released to the club.
It is great news to see such a large donation but also great news to see the DUSF using their accumulated funds. It might now also encourage others to join the DUSF. If you want to read more about my own views on this type of fan engagement then you can follow this link – Here
To read the joint statement by United and the Foundation you can find it here.
Update – June 21st
So, lots of legal shenanigans from Hearts this week but also the small matter of Robbie Neilson leaving as manager….
Full story here.
Update – July 6th
After a fortnight of speculation, United appoint Micky Mellon as the new manager. You can read my thoughts here.
On a sour note we also had another series of statements regarding the case against the SPFL, launched by Hearts and Partick Thistle. After a hearing decided that the matter was not a legal case we now face an arbitration hearing, independent of the SFA but facilitated by them. This next phase will begin shortly but the legal costs for such a case are ever growing, which has resulted in United, Cove Rangers and Raith Rovers all releasing a statement explaining their position and their commitment to defend themselves. They have now asked member clubs and supporters to assist them financially in this case.
The whole sorry saga continues to frustrate and anger both fans and member clubs. WE JUST WANT TO GET BACK TO THE FOOTBALL.
I’ve always felt that Hearts and Partick should have the right to an appeal, and they probably do have a strong case for some compensation given the circumstances. I would expect us to have done the same if we were relegated after an incomplete season. I also believe reconstruction would have been the solution, allowing promotions but no relegations. That is too late now and clubs have democratically voted against this. so we must move on to what happens next. What I do have issue with is the fact that three teams are being asked to financially fund a legal defence when the case is against the SPFL, rather than the clubs cited in the original claim. Fingers crossed that the arbitration concludes swiftly and we can all move on.
Update – July 10th
United have confirmed the signing of young goalkeeper Jack Newman on a free transfer. The former Sunderland youth goalie arrived at Tannadice for the start of pre-season training and has now signed a two year contract to act as cover for Siegrist and Mehmet.
After a long wait we have our new kit! The top is maybe not as memorable as last season’s stunning effort but it is still a nice kit produced by Macron. We await news of the rumoured purple away outfit…
Update – July 28th
United complete the signing of Luke Bolton from Manchester City on-loan for the season. The pacey winger/wing-back has plenty of loan experience and played for Luton Town last season. Although he was not a regular started for the English Championship side, he was still involved in over 20 of their games.
He is a plyer who strengthens an area that we need options in. Excited to see what he can bring!
Update – August 3rd
We’ve signed a giant! Today sees the arrival of 6ft 5 central defender Ryan Edwards from Blackpool. He is a player who Micky Mellon has apparently been chasing for a few seasons so the manager will be delighted to finally get his man.
I think that nearly all of us identified central defence as a potential weak spot this season, and with Mellon playing with three central defenders against St.Johnstone in our opener, we definitely need additional bodies at the back.
Welcome to Tannadice Ryan!
The Heartfelt Final Bit
Right now we can all be guilty of spending far too much time on social media. During the swiping and browsing you can sometimes see comments or tweets that basically say something along the lines of – “look, there is a global pandemic happening right now, so you really shouldn’t be talking about stupid football when all of this is going on.”
It really annoys me.
I think any football fan (and any decent human) obviously understands the challenges the world is facing right now but I do think that people sometimes misunderstand the power of a hobby, a sport or a lifestyle to take you away from all of that. Replace the word ‘football’ in that tweet with anything else – ‘golf’, ‘music’, ‘cooking’, ‘reading’, ‘watering the grass’ (oh yes). Where do we stop? When all the world is struggling, little releases, little ‘bits’ can get you through and for me football is a massive release and a huge part of my identity. The lack of the sport I love has made the last few months even harder.
What we do have though, is Dundee United. At the moment our club is where we want it to be and it is heading in the direction we all want it to. Things can never be perfect and the footballing landscape is currently subject to massive change but we do at least have a Dundee United we can be proud of once more.
With everything around us looking a bit grim, I certainly take a bit of comfort from knowing that United fans are all together in this and that the club itself is in good hands, with a culture shift that has brought back a sense of drive, community connection and professionalism.
Whatever happens next season we need to acknowledge that we will be in a huge fight. We will be facing strong teams every week and the pressure will be on us to show that we can make the step up. Other clubs will look at us and see United as a target. We are still a fairly big scalp in Scottish football so teams will want to go after us on the pitch. For me personally I actually prefer this battling mentality and backfoot pressure over the ‘win every week to win the league’ pressure because you can really savour the victories and the important points in a different way. I’ll enjoy battling again, and I look forward to seeing the team rise to that. The players will need to prove themselves again, but in a totally different way. I am sure they will all relish the challenge.
Hopefully we can all see each other again very soon.
Stay safe. Look after each other. Arabest.
Information correct as of 5th August 2020.