Category Archives: Dundee United

Match Review – Livingston vs Dundee United – 23/02/18

Anyone remember the 2nd of January? That was the day we won against Brechin. It was also our last league victory. Tonight’s game against Livingston was very much a case of last chance saloon. We faced a team who have shown everyone that with a decent team spirit and a huge amount of determination you can achieve great things. Livingston are basically what Dundee United look like in an alternate universe.

I travelled through to the game utterly convinced that we would at least see something different. A different shape to our team, a different approach to our play and maybe even a different attitude. More fool me. It was apparent that even just a few minutes into the game that we had reverted to type and that our rigid 4231 with Scott McDonald as the lone striker was again going to show everyone that we are indeed a team without any real identity. We don’t have the personnel to play any kind of football that has any real purpose. Long ball? We have a team full of midgets with one or two ‘physical’ players with no presence. Neat and intricate football? We don’t have the players good enough to pull that off. When things do then invariably fall apart we are left with a group of individuals who after the first Livingston goal all started pointing at each other as if nobody knew exactly who was doing what.

Csaba Laszlo has inherited a poor squad. He has also signed some poor players. The role of Darren Taylor in all of this has to be questioned but it is clear that this group are simply not good enough to navigate their way out of the championship. What is also now beginning to show is Laszlo’s own frailties as manager of this group of players.

Tonight was, in many ways, the perfect game to highlight the differences between what happens when a club starts to get things right and a club that is now stuck in a spiral of poor decisions and one that has a poisonous atmosphere surrounding it. Yes we played pretty well for a 20 minute spell in the second half, yes we were moments away from a point (and close to snatching all three) but to be honest did we deserve anything out of the game? Probably not. Livingston were a better team and the word ‘team’ is the absolute factor in all of this. We are not a team at the moment and we are miles away from resembling one.

Weeks ago it was a case of trying to work out exactly what had to happen and when for us to win the league. Now? I can’t be the only one looking at what we need to even scrape a playoff spot?

Dundee United Player Ratings – 

25. Harry Lewis – 4 – Needed to be dropped for tonight’s game and wasn’t. He is a young goalkeeper having a confidence crisis and the manager needs to protect him by moving him aside for the time being.

2. Stewart Murdoch 4 – Showed a bit of determination in the second half but still major flaws in his game defensively. Could have won the game for United at the death.

4. Mark Durnan – 4 – I’ve been a defender of Durnan and he was important in the first half but faded badly in the second. At fault for the the winner?

3. Tam Scobbie – 4 – On paper he makes the defence much more balanced but he is missing a yard of pace and isn’t sharp enough at the moment.

17. Jamie Robson – 3 – Should not be in the team and even if Brandon Mason isn’t up to much it is time to give Robson some time on the bench.

16. Willo Flood – 5 – He obviously cares and he does his running about the pitch routine to prove it but he isn’t dominant enough to impact on games in the way he should be.

24. Grant Gillespie – 3 – Very disappointing from someone who should have been out to impress in his first game in his preferred position. Poor.

58. Emil Lyng – 2 – I’m always keen to give players a chance but he definitely does not have any real redeeming features. No loss after he went off injured. 

12. Sam Stanton – 6 – Still our best player but was shoved out wide for some of the first half and then was forced to sit deep for most of the second.

11. Billy King – 4 – A typical performance from King, showed flashes of promise but offers nothing in other areas of the game.

8. Scott McDonald – 4 – Felt a little sorry for McDonald in the first half being isolated upfront with the giant Livi defenders surrounding him. Didn’t impact the game once we changed shape.

Subs – 7.Paul McMullan (3) – Brought on too late. 28.Matty Smith (6) – Best United player in the second half (and possibly over the course of the game). Really positive on the ball and showed good strength. 9.Thomas Mikkelsen (4) – To be fair to him he ran the channels quite well but still missing real quality in front of goal.

Man of the Match – Matty Smith. The youngster showed up the older pros by coming on and displayed determination and positivity on the ball. Deserves a run in the team ahead of some of his teammates. 

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Next Fixture – Two games at Tannadice next week and it could be a very, very difficult few days for the club. No doubt the attendances will dwindle and up first we have Queen of the South on Tuesday night. Fail to win that one and it could be embarrassing by the time we face St.Mirren on the Friday.

 

Match Preview – Livingston vs Dundee United

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” – Martin Luther King.

When is hope a bad thing? When Dundee United are involved. The St.Mirren scoreline from last Saturday has at least managed to stir up a little bit of interest in a season that looked like ending in inevitable disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, it probably still will, but it does make the next 3 games a bit more interesting.

Part of me has really enjoyed the relaxed last couple of weekends without league football to worry about but Dundee United now have three games in a week starting with the visit to Livingston on Friday. We play Queen of the South next Tuesday and then St.Mirren in an all or nothing game at Tannadice live on BT Sport. By the time we face the Buddies it could be either a case of a miracle being possible or it could provide the final nail in the title coffin. The other added intrigue to this mix is that Livingston themselves will have genuine hope of having a say in this title race. They come in to Friday’s game in great form and will be very confident of taking points from United. Their fantastic result against St.Mirren proves that they are a genuinely good team who work incredibly hard for one another and are very difficult to beat. The Livingston side are the complete opposite to the United one in that they are strong, physical, well organised and know how to grind out results.

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We are all hoping that a break from league duties has revitalised Csaba Laszlo’s squad. Additional work on the training ground has eased some injury worries which means we at least have more flexibility in the team selection. Now is the time for United to step up to the plate and have a right good go. You would hope that they must be able to motivate themselves for this incredibly important run of fixtures.

The squad news is, as I mentioned, a little bit more positive and we should see the return of either Paul Quinn, Tam Scobbie or William Edjenguele. There may also be a place in the squad for Jordie Briels but the likelihood is that the game on Friday probably comes a little too soon for him. Personally I would like to see one or two changes and maybe a change of shape but Csaba Laszlo may disagree! I think that Harry Lewis needs a rest and that we should be giving Deniz Mehmet an opportunity. Hopefully Tam Scobbie is fit enough to play because he is probably the best option we have to play alongside Mark Durnan. Ideally Grant Gillespie should be moved into central midfield and it would be good to start with two out-and-out strikers. With Livingston playing a more structured brand of football I wonder if we might start with two target men upfront in order to counter their physical presence.

My team against Livingston would be –

GK – Deniz Mehmet

 

RB – Stewart Murdoch

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

LB – Jamie Robson

 

RM – Paul McMullan

CM – Grant Gillespie

CM – Sam Stanton

LM – Billy King

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

ST – Scott McDonald

 

Subs – Harry Lewis, Cammy Ballantyne, Willo Flood, Craig Slater, Paul Quinn, Emil Lyng, Matty Smith.

Key Player – Scott McDonald  I’ve been very critical of McDonald and I still don’t really trust him. There have been some rumours of a falling out between the management and the veteran striker so maybe Friday is an opportunity for him to prove his worth. He can still be a match winner on his day.

Match Review – Aberdeen vs Dundee United – 11/02/18

One central defender in the entire match day squad. One. When United announced the team for today’s game against Aberdeen you could audibly hear the scratching of heads from all of the supporters who had started to try to figure out just exactly what kind of formation we were going to start with. Nobody gave United the slightest of chances before this team was announced. Now? Is it possible to have less than no confidence?

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I always remember when I was younger that when we played Celtic or Rangers at Tannadice I would always be absolutely petrified every time they got the ball because I assumed that they would score. That feeling returned today as I looked at the Aberdeen squad and realised that it was the biggest gulf between the two teams that I can remember. I’ve generally never not looked forward to watching my team but today really, really tested that.

When the teams did emerge it ended up being Stewart Murdoch in the middle of the defence alongside Mark Durnan. Recent signing Grant Gillespie was at right-back with the rest of the squad in their familiar positions. Matty Smith, a surprise starter, was deployed out wide with Emil Lyng the lone striker.

To be fair to United the opening period of the game was as reasonable as we could have hoped for. We were never going to be able to venture too far forward but defensively the team did a pretty good job despite only having 30% possession. The hard work was undone by a sloppy goal and after that it looked like United were going to crumble as we really struggled to get a foothold in the game. With the defence looking weak and the poor positioning of makeshift defenders Murdoch and Gillespie it was no surprise that Aberdeen turned the screw and after half an hour it looked like United were on to the much expected hiding. Amazingly though we actually did score a goal! Sam Stanton’s excellent break and finish at least gave us something to cheer. Aberdeen scoring 30 seconds later restored normal service.

The second half was a case of going through the motions for Aberdeen and they never really had to work too hard despite United scoring a good second goal through McMullan. United did grow in confidence as the game went on but it was never going to be enough to turn over the deficit. Aberdeen could have and should have added more goals but they became sloppy and lazy with the ball, making us look better than we probably were.

It really is a terrible time to be a United fan. Watching the game today you can’t help but look back to just a few years ago when we would have been able to compete against an Aberdeen team. Now it is incredible just how far apart we are. The Dons could have scored as many as they would have wanted today and we made the whole thing so easy for them. A short period of positivity towards the end of the game is not enough to hide the fact that we are a very poor side.

Dundee United Player Ratings – 

25. Harry Lewis – 3 – After his loan spell at United I would imagine that for the next two seasons he will be playing on loan for various English League Two sides and then his contract will expire at Southampton. He isn’t very good.

4. Grant Gillespie – 4 – Felt sorry for the new signing. He is a midfielder and although he has been used as a right-back at Hamilton he was hung out to dry today playing alongside Murdoch.

4. Mark Durnan – 5 – Poor performance from someone we have relied upon this season. Probably didn’t help that he was part of a terribly makeshift defence.

2. Stewart Murdoch – 4 – Rubbish. He is never a central defender and looked totally uncomfortable for 90 minutes.

17. Jamie Robson – 3 – If he wasn’t left-footed he would never have been given so much of a chance to play at United. Weak, hesitant and unreliable. 

16. Willo Flood – 5 – Ran about a lot but never did anything of note. Gave away possession far too often.

15. Craig Slater – 3 – Really have not seen anything from Slater since he signed for the club. Terrible in possession and incredibly slow with the ball at his feet.

28. Matty Smith – 5 – Fair play to Smith he did a reasonable job on the right hand side and he put himself about.

12. Sam Stanton – 6 – United’s best player and someone who is maybe beginning to regret signing a new two-year deal to stay at the club. He should be playing top-flight football.

11. Billy King – 5 – Tried to show for the ball in the first-half, went missing in the second until his assist for McMullan. Had no service to work with.

58. Emil Lyng – 4 – Feel sorry for a player being so isolated. Hardly had a touch of the ball.

Subs – 7.Paul McMullan (5) – Took his goal really well. 8.Scott McDonald (2) – Did nothing. 9.Thomas Mikkelsen (1) – Did less than nothing.

Man of the Match – Sam Stanton. He is the best player we have at the moment. His box-to-box ability and his fitness mean that he is always involved and seems to cover more yardage than most of the team put together. 

Next Fixture – We have another break of nearly two weeks before we face Livingston away. They actually have two games between now and then so could quite feasibly be ahead of us by a few points by the time we meet. With the league pretty much gone it is imperative we try to secure 2nd. A win at the Toni Macaroni would go a long way to help that.

 

Match Preview – Aberdeen vs Dundee United – Scottish Cup Fifth Round

It has been a strange last ten days or so. With the Inverness game postponed and no league game until the 23rd of February there doesn’t seem to be much to talk about at the moment. The news of Stephen Thompson’s summer exit has petered out and the social media chat seems to have dried up for the time being. It has probably something to do with the fact that on Sunday we face Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup and even the most hardened of United fan would admit that it is going be pretty grim viewing.

One thing that the game on Sunday does do is remind us all of just how far United have fallen in the last few seasons. If this was played in 2014/15 then the fever of the cup would have taken hold and we would be looking at a huge travelling support going to Pittodrie with great confidence. Now? It is pretty embarrassing just how far apart the two teams are and any fan that travels up north deserves a medal.

Many supporters will actually pinpoint the last cup-tie between the two sides as being the last truly positive match involving Dundee United. On the 31st of January 2015 we beat Aberdeen 2-1 at Hampden in the League Cup semi-final. We also fell behind in that match making Nadir Ciftci’s 84th minute winner even more memorable. It was a fantastic match with a fantastic atmosphere but, unbeknown to us, it signalled the start of things falling apart.

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The build-up to Sunday’s match has been pretty low-key and has only had one notable moment. Csaba Laszlo has been quoted today as saying that Aberdeen have had a pretty easy ride of it in the last few seasons and the reason for this is down to Dundee United being in the Championship. It seems to have upset some Aberdeen fans (and some United supporters too) but to be fair to Csaba I think he referred to the fact that Hibs, Hearts and Rangers have also been pretty poor in recent years so in that respect maybe Aberdeen have been able to get a firm grip on the league.

As for team news it was announced earlier today that James Keatings will be having surgery for his current injury but other than that there are no new casualties to worry about for Sunday (Tam Scobbie will still be missing despite his progress). My advice normally would be put out a weakened team in the cup as the league is the priority but given we have managed to pretty much throw away the league and we are playing Aberdeen live on TV we should probably try our best to win this. We are also helped with the players hopefully feeling reasonably fresh given they didn’t have a game at the weekend.

My team against Aberdeen would be –

GK – Harry Lewis

 

RB – Stewart Murdoch

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Paul Quinn

LB – Jamie Robson

 

CM – Grant Gillespie

CM – Craig Slater

 

RM – Paul McMullan

CAM – Sam Stanton

LM –  Billy King

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

 

Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Brandon Mason, Willo Flood, Logan Chalmers, Scott McDonald, Emil Lyng, Idris Kadded

Key Players – Everyone – Please don’t let the fans down and at least put in a good performance. We all know that there is a huge gulf in class between the teams at present but the supporters deserve to see a team that is at least willing to fight for everything and make it as difficult as possible for Aberdeen.

Match Preview – Inverness Caledonian Thistle vs Dundee United

Another easy week at Tannadice….

Where shall we begin? First of all there was the most abject of abject performances against Greenock Morton. This was immediately followed by the manager and the first team spending nearly two hours in the changing room after the match. Since the weekend the players and manager have revealed that they had a bit of a ‘Q&A’ amongst themselves with Csaba Laszlo asking the squad to come up with some suggestions as to how to improve the team’s fortunes. I hope that hunger, desire and commitment were on the suggestion list. The big announcement yesterday was the news that Stephen Thompson is to resign as Chairman at the end of the season. The crucial point in this however is that he will remain as majority shareholder along with Mike Martin. The long-term effect of this is unclear at the moment but in terms of being the figurehead for the club Stephen Thompson’s days are numbered. Today, even more bizarrely, the club have been linked with some kind of tie-in with a club in the new 3rd tier of American ‘soccer’. Within all of this we also signed someone! Midfielder Grant Gillespie has joined under freedom of contract having left Hamilton.

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Moving on to the match on Saturday we surely, surely must see some sort of reaction from the United team. Our away record points to the fact that we might not get this and this is also complicated by the fact that Inverness are actually pretty decent at the moment and will be keen to repeat the victory they achieved in October. Our title hopes have all but been extinguished but the team must now focus on ensuring that at the very least we hold on to our 2nd position and if, by some miracle, St.Mirren start dropping points then at least we are keeping in touch with top spot.

Not a huge amount of team news for Saturday but it looks like Tam Scobbie is back and Paul McMullan will return to the team after his suspension. New signing Grant Gillespie should go straight into the squad after declaring himself match-fit. The only other changes may be as a result of Laszlo making alterations due to the abysmal performance against Morton. He doesn’t have a huge opportunity to rotate but we might see two or three changes.

My team against Inverness would be –

GK – Harry Lewis

 

RB – Stewart Murdoch

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

LB – Brandon Mason

 

CM – Grant Gillespie

CM – Craig Slater

 

RM – Paul McMullan

CAM – Sam Stanton

LM –  Billy King

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

 

Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Jamie Robson, Willo Flood, Logan Chalmers, Scott McDonald, Emil Lyng, Idris Kadded.

Key Player – Paul McMullan – After a couple of weeks out of the team it is important that McMullan turns in a performance to show that he deserves to be in the team. He can provide a huge amount of creativity going forward and the team are desperate for more goals.

 

Dundee United – What’s the Problem?

It is an easy one to answer isn’t it? Everything. I sat for some of last Sunday afternoon wanting to do a post like this but decided against it because it might take forever to write. After giving up I happened to put a post up on Twitter that night explaining that I had been told that the club are trying to re-negotiate their lease on the St.Andrews training complex. I mentioned in the tweet that for me, personally, the facility over in Fife is “part of the problem”. I got quite a strong response to that suggestion and much of it negative. Looking back I probably didn’t word the tweet very well but what I was trying to put across was the idea that our training complex has taken the entire footballing operation over to Fife and that it may have impacted on the identity that the club has maybe lost over the last few seasons. I don’t think it is THE problem at the club and it isn’t even in the top five or six but I do feel as though it hasn’t been the fantastic success that the club would have hoped it to be.

This gets me on to the main reason for writing this piece. I am motivated to write it because although my training ground view went down like a lead balloon I am keen to look at questions like – What are the main problems at United as things stand? What are the issues that have contributed to the club reaching this point? What happens next? It is the lowest I have felt as a fan in my time supporting the club (ironically that was in 1995 when we were in the first Division). We are at a tipping point in terms of the future of Dundee United. If we remain in the Championship for another year, and it is looking likely, then what happens next? With mounting debt and no sense of direction the club is like a rudderless ship at the moment and one that is in real danger. There is no divine right for United to be a top force in Scottish football despite our recent history. Realistically we cannot compete financially with at least five other clubs in Scotland, but we do expect a well-run, strongly-led and stable club to support.

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It would be easy to rant about almost everything at Tannadice so I think it best to split the issues in to four or five sections to make them more manageable. So, here goes nothing…

The Manager

Amongst the negativity Csaba Laszlo, in my view, is probably one of the few who at the moment gets a bit of a ‘free pass’. His brief stint as manager hasn’t exactly been successful but the core problems at Dundee United don’t really relate to the manager. The results since Christmas have been really poor but to be fair to Laszlo he has inherited an unbalanced team that has been badly hampered by injuries. Poor recruitment along with a threadbare squad means that Laszlo has little to work with. All of this is also not helped when you have a group of players that seem to have no mental toughness and fold easily under any sort of pressure. Csaba is clearly a passionate and dedicated manager but do his players have the determination to respond to his demands? At the moment it doesn’t look like it. Laszlo isn’t totally blameless, he has recently made some very poor judgments and his team selections recently have been a bit odd. Overall though, when you look at the bigger picture he is not the root of any real problem that lies within Tannadice. Is he the man to guide us back to the Premiership? At the moment it looks highly unlikely but his current contract lasts for another year (and he is apparently committed to the job) so it is more than likely we will see him at the helm for the foreseeable future.

Recruitment

A great deal was made of Darren Taylor’s appointment last year as ‘Head of Football Operations’. It is a big part of his job to identify and seek out new players for the squad. He spends a huge amount of time out on the road, on phone calls and working with agents to try to secure players for Dundee United. A club that operates at a full-time level needs to have someone like this at the club but for me the player recruitment since he arrived has been pretty abysmal overall. This is no more evident than during key transfer windows in each of the Januarys in which Taylor has been in post. Last year’s full list of incoming transfers looked like this – Stewart Murdoch, Cammy Bell, Brett Long, Lewis Toshney, Tope Obadeyi, Cammy Smith, Willo Flood, Nick van der Velden, Tony Andreu, William Edjenguele, Frank van der Struijk, Thomas Mikkelsen and Alex Nicholls. It doesn’t make for great reading. As for this year? James Keatings, Billy King, Tam Scobbie, Paul McMullan, Patrick N’Koyi, Deniz Mehmet, Sam Stanton, Harry Lewis, Scott McDonald, Fraser Fyvie, Paul Quinn, Craig Slater, Brandon Mason, Emil Lyng, Idris Kaddid and Logan Martin. Now to be fair there are names on these lists that on paper look like decent enough signings but those names are also the names of people who are on loan, on short-term deals or, in some cases, they are players edging towards the end of their career.

These types of signings have shown that they are not what is needed to win a title and for the most part they are all short-sighted (only a very few have two-year deals). The recruitment at Dundee United has to be questioned. When you see other teams do a lot more with a lot less you have to wonder why it is that we have managed to get things so wrong. There is no expectation that every signing a club makes must turn out to be a quality addition but our ‘hit rate’ is incredibly low and gives off the impression of desperation rather than proper planning and attention.

The Board

This is a big one so make yourself comfortable. First of all I think it is important to acknowledge some of the good, yes, good that the board achieved many moons ago. It may seem like a distant memory but there once was a period of time where things were bubbling along quite nicely at Tannadice. To go back to that time it is important to acknowledge that Stephen Thompson’s dad Eddie was rightly seen as a bit of a hero amongst fans. He brought much-needed passion and commitment to the role of Chairman and he invested huge sums of money into the plan for bringing success to United. He wore his heart on his sleeve, adored the club and brought fans together in way that we all loved. As we know not all of his decisions worked and as a result the club built up huge levels of debt. The big turning point under Eddie’s reign was the appointment of Craig Levein. In my opinion Craig Levein is one of the best things to have happened to United in the last 20 years and it was under his guidance that the club became stable and had a vision for the future. When Stephen took control after his father’s passing he worked with Levein in coming up with a plan to reduce the club’s debt and make United a functioning and sustainable business. It is during this 2008-2014 period that we all thought that things were progressing reasonably well. We had a few years of great success on the pitch and it also helped that we had a seemingly never-ending supply chain of sellable assets.

Despite much of this positivity there is a significant date for when things started to fall apart for Thompson and the board. On the 1st of February 2015 both Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven joined Celtic. These transfers came after Stephen Thompson quite publicly talked about United not having to sell and came a year after United had announced that all bank debt had been cleared due to transfer income and the taking of loans from private individuals. The club had made noises about the clearing of debt removing the need for player sales and the fans bought into the idea of this now being a new dawn for the club and one full of hope. In 2015 Thompson said – ”It is a big deal for the club. It puts us in a strong position when it comes to keeping players in transfer windows. We won’t need to sell at any price and I just think we are in control of our own destiny now. I said from the outset that I wanted to leave this club debt-free. That was my ambition. It looks like it could be happening a lot quicker than even I thought.” It was here when Thompson began to alienate the club’s fans.

It was also at this time when things became incredibly complicated at board level. I am not a financial expert but money started to leave the club and the destination of it was less than clear. Dundee United had accumulated a vast sum from transfer income and yet much of it was being used to service things like Director’s loans (there is much more detail on this here). Whilst money and football will always be complicated the overall picture has been incredibly unclear for some time now and it is getting to the stage where things are in serious danger of total collapse. At the moment Stephen Thompson is the absolute majority shareholder and the club have no assets having secured loans against every piece of property in and around Tannadice. These loans are to individuals who the board consider to be ‘fans’ and they are loans that have a degree of flexibility but they do need to be paid back. Now that all the player assets have been sold there is nothing left of any real value at the club and it is safe to say that Stephen Thompson and the board are failing at their jobs.

It is unrealistic to expect Directors to continuously bankroll a football club but they should be able to have a functioning business model and make good footballing decisions. Cashflow is at an all time low and will continue to be reduced if, and when, the club remains in the Championship next season (the shortfall is around £1.5million per year in revenue). This also does not take into account the fact that fans are now beginning to turn their back on the one big pile of money that all clubs rely on; season tickets. Things cannot continue like this. Our once media friendly Chairman is now very rarely heard from and although there have been some efforts to communicate with fans by other board members (most recently with newly appointed Jimmy Fyffe) it all seems like too little too late. There must be a change at Tannadice and it must come soon. Unfortunately there does not seem to be an easy solution. There is no money out there and there are no individuals to pin hopes on (but more on that later).

I will fully admit that, up until a few months before we were relegated in 2016, I thought Stephen Thompson’s biggest fault was his inability to employ a good manager. Now, looking back, that was a mistake. There are dozens, upon dozens of accusations and questions aimed at the Chairman (for example, the unknown purpose of ‘United FC Group Ltd’ formed by Thompson fellow Director Mike Martin in 2015) but he is not willing to answer to anyone. Having an unresponsive and uncommunicative chairman is a terrible thing for a football club as it leaves fans in the dark over what happens next. It has also been made public this week that Mike Martin has purchased all of Justine Mitchell’s shares, taking the Thompson/Martin shareholdings up to 85%. This kind of ‘ownership’ is completely wrong in my opinion and that is where the fans come in…

The Fans

The most important element in all of this is us, the fans. We are the victims. Many of us spend our time and money following Dundee United and for most this club is a significant part of our lives. We have seen the decline in Dundee United over the past three years but it has not happened naturally. Most level-headed fans expect their side to go through good times and bad times but this current situation has been brought on through bad leadership, terrible managerial appointments and poor recruitment. It has also led us to financial uncertainty. At the moment the collective view of the United support is difficult to judge because many of the fan groups seems to be pulling in different directions. This has to stop. Two of the bigger players in recent months have been ‘Fans United’ and the Dundee United Supporters Foundation. We also have the ‘Fed’ (Federation of Dundee United Supporters’ Clubs), ArabTrust and the newly formed Supporters Liaison Group (organised via the club itself). On the face of things all of these groups want the same thing, they all want what is best for Dundee United. Unfortunately at times it seems as though they all disagree about the way to bring about change and this is where we are running into problems. By now you would assume that a substantial percentage of fans want some kind of change. Bringing about that change is the hard part.

Personally I fully support the idea of part-fan ownership. I pay my monthly fee to the DUSF and I truly believe a model like this can work. When you look at other clubs who have managed to successfully run this type of investment you have a reliable and consistent revenue stream and fans get a bigger voice. Unfortunately the DUSF have not had the uptake they were looking for and the numbers are very low. This means, at present, they do not have enough cash to make any significant move. We also have no figurehead to pin our hopes on. There are no individuals, that we know of, who may be keen on buying Dundee United. This is where many fans are fearful as a step into the unknown is daunting. Back in the pre-Thompson era we at least had a diehard United fan and local businessman who fans could rally around and press froward with. I remember being in the stand at a Scottish Cup tie away in Ayr and Eddie Thompson, who was not in control at the time, was standing in front of me and it was quite exciting to see the person who wanted to buy my club and give us all a bit of hope. We don’t have that right now.

This leaves us in a difficult position. What do we, as fans, actually do in the current situation? The options discussed by Fans United are much more proactive and would potentially result in protests and boycotts. The DUSF are much more passive and would prefer a cash based plan but this needs time and a huge effort from fans. The reality is we are now stuck in limbo and maybe a mixture of these two ideals might be the best way forward. Nothing of note seems to be on the horizon and in terms of the club it will be May before our immediate future is decided given we will know what league we will be in next season. Until then it looks like being an incredibly difficult and awkward few months. Things need to change and we need to be able to have faith in the board again. That will not happen as long as Stephen Thompson and Mike Martin are here. The atmosphere is not good at Tannadice and the fans are suffering. What does Dundee United look like as a club a year from now? In all my time as a fan this is the first time I can honestly say that nobody has the faintest idea.

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I have spent much of the last year preparing for the birth of my first child. Our 13 week old son already has multiple United tops, teddies and decorations in his room. What worries me about the next few years is that as my son becomes aware of football and aware of Dundee United I don’t really know what I will tell him about this period in the club’s history. I also don’t really know for certain what kind of club he will grow up to support. So, what happens next?

Match Review – Dundee United vs Greenock Morton – 27/01/18

I’ll be honest I have no motivation to write this. The Dundee United team that we all witnessed today are, quite frankly, a disgrace. I’m sure a Sports Psychologist would have a field day with the players at the club as, to a man, they seem to suffer from a mental fragility that is truly astonishing. Today was the day that St.Mirren unofficially won the title but to be honest it has been on the cards for weeks now as United, yet again, have capitulated over the festive period and in to January. This is a tale all too familiar and it leaves all of us wondering; what next?

I’m not going to go through the goals (although Morton’s second was a stunning strike worthy of winning any game). I am not going to give player ratings. I am not going to comment on tactics. On 74 minutes I left the game today. Leaving early is something I have only ever done on a handful of occasions but today I made an exception. The United side today didn’t deserve my support, they didn’t deserve the support of anyone. It was embarrising beyond belief. Apparently Csaba Laszlo has kept the players in the changing room since the game but to be honest it won’t make any difference. There is a malaise in this squad and they do not have the mental capacity to fight and claw their way out of this situation. Psychologically it is the weakest side I can remember.

I could go on but I don’t have the energy.

Match Preview – Dundee United vs Greenock Morton

Dundee United have not played at Tannadice since the 2nd of January. On that day a fairly comfortable 4-1 win against Brechin looked like setting up a potentially very rewarding spell of games. Sitting here three weeks later it is safe to say that things have been pretty rubbish. Injuries seem to be piling up (Tam Scobbie the latest) and the results have been poor. The obvious low point was the thrashing at the hands of Falkirk but the distinctly average performances at Dunfermline and Alloa have done little to lift confidence amongst the supporters. It feels like I am a broken record in saying this but Saturday’s home game against Morton definitely IS the biggest game of the season so far. We are probably heading into the last chance saloon with 14 league games left of the current campaign and very little room for further slip ups.

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Csaba Laszlo has spoken this week about the fact that he believes his players have left a slump and are on the way up. A number of new signings means that there is at least a sense of anticipation for the game on Saturday but it really is all or nothing from here on in. The numerous injuries don’t help matters but at least there are more bodies in the squad to mix things up if it isn’t quite going our way. New French youngster Idris Kadded seems to have sparked a bit of intrigue and the return of Thomas Mikkelsen is a welcome boost along with the fit again Stewart Murdoch and, apparently, William Edjenguélé. We may also see a glimpse of our other French youngster Logan Martin as his paperwork should be cleared by the end of the week. The manager has hinted that he has up to three additional players in mind for potential transfers but the likelihood is that we will probably not see more than one coming in before the transfer window closes in a week.

“We, really, after St Mirren, had a fall in a hole and we went very deep,” said Laszlo earlier in the week.

“Now we have come back. At Dunfermline you saw the light, we didn’t score but we got a point. Against Alloa we scored two goals. I think this is important for the confidence and for the fans.

“In the first half maybe they suffered a lot but, in the second half, we showed we were also on the field. We said, ‘guys we are here as well’. This was good.”

In terms of injuries and suspensions we are still looking at a rather large and intimidating list of players. Suspended for Saturday is Paul McMullan and the injury list currently reads as follows…Tam Scobbie, Lewis Toshney, James Keatings, Jordie Briels, Fraser Fyvie and Scott Fraser. Enough to derail anyone’s title challenge…

As for the visitors we are facing them after they secured a very positive result against Dunfermline in the Scottish Cup. The 2-1 victory showed that Morton are still a side to be very wary about. They have had mixed results in the league recently but they are more than capable of taking points at Tannadice if United are not at their best.

 

My team against Morton would be –

GK – Harry Lewis

 

RB – Stewart Murdoch

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Paul Quinn

LB – Jamie Robson

 

CM – Craig Slater

CM – Sam Stanton

 

RM – Emil Lyng

CAM – Scott McDonald

LM –  Billy King

 

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

 

Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Brandon Mason, Willo Flood, Scott Allardice, William Edjenguélé, Logan Martin, Idris Kadded.

Key Player – Thomas Mikkelsen – No pressure Thomas but to be honest you could be the difference between a title and a playoff. The club have been crying out for a consistent target man and now, especially given the bullish talk from you in the papers, we need you to step up to the plate!

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Match Review – Alloa Athletic vs Dundee United – 20/1/18

Ah yes the magic of the Scottish Cup. As I had previously written in the match preview the ‘magic’ of the cup has all but vanished from Tannadice so today’s game against Alloa has not exactly caused a huge amount of excitement amongst the fans. With about 1000 tickets sold for today’s game there is still a decent travelling support but it is safe to say that all the fans want to see at the moment is league football given how important it is. The United media team have also been showing footage all week from our previous Scottish Cup triumphs which is a handy reminder of the fact that we used to be quite good!

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Perhaps maybe not as many changes as we were expecting from Laszlo. From the team that started the game against Dunfermline it was a case of only two changes. Paul Quinn came in for Tam Scobbie who is injured and Thomas Mikkelsen started ahead Paul McMullan. On the bench Brandon Mason and young Frenchman Idris Kadded did make the match day squad.

A really slow and stuttering start to the game from United. The home side seemed to have a huge number of half chances in the opening spell and United didn’t manage to get a hold of the game. A Jamie Robson sclaff that came off the woodwork and a smattering of Craig Slater shots were the only real attacking moments in the opening minutes but after the 20 minute mark United did start to get more of a grip on things with Sam Stanton coming really close to opening the scoring. After that you would expect United to press ahead but despite having lots of possession it was a really flat performance in the first 45 without much to shout about. Despite all of this we did actually score! Mark Durnan continues his impressive season and managed to grab a goal just before the half-time whistle.

The second half was a bit more positive without ever really being too exciting. Again United had a great deal of the ball but it always seems a bit too patient at the moment and all a bit safe. It was great that Emil Lyng got off the mark for the club and it looks like new French youngster Idris Kadded has a decent technique and could be a good addition to the squad. With games like this it is always the case that the win is the most important thing. At the end of the day Dundee United are in the draw for the next round.

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Dundee United Player Ratings – 

25. Harry Lewis – 6 – Steady enough game with not a huge amount to do apart from a couple of decent stops in the first half.

4. Mark Durnan7 – His goal gets him a bonus point and he was probably more willing to be more positive with the ball than the other defenders.

5. Paul Quinn5 – Decent enough performance but his passing and distribution remains a big issue.

16. Willo Flood5 – He is okay at right-back but he is not particularly comfortable there and he needs to be back in the middle.

17. Jamie Robson6 – Got into a few decent positions but his final ball let him down.

15. Craig Slater5 – Quiet game in the middle and three games in he is maybe not making enough of an impact on play.

12. Sam Stanton5 – A fairly uneventful game for him. Quieter than usual.

9. Thomas Mikkelsen6 –  A decent return from the Dane. He links play well but he needs better service.

11. Billy King – 5 –  Looked lively in the first half but was pretty anonymous in the second half.

58. Emil Lyng5 – Yes he scored but he did not have much of an impact on the game and didn’t look particularly comfortable. Hopefully more to come once he is fit.

8. Scott McDonald4 – Really not suited to the role he is playing right now. Does not influence the game enough from his current position behind the striker.

Subs2.Stewart Murdoch (4) – Good to get him on to build on his fitness. Team looks more balanced when he is playing fullback. 22.Idris Kadded (5) – Looked lively when he came on and showed some good touches. Unlucky not to score. 32. Brandon Mason (3) – On for fitness reasons probably. No real impact. 

Man of the Match – Mark Durnan. Simply for being slightly more comfortable than the others around him plus he got his goal. 

Next Fixture – Greenock Morton at home next Saturday. It is back to league business and another massive fixture for the team. Morton got a good win today at Dunfermline so will be high in confidence. It is vital we pick up three points.

 

Match Preview – Alloa Athletic vs Dundee United – Scottish Cup Fourth Round

Normally the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup is quite exciting and intriguing. It gives you a break from league duty and it allows fans the opportunity to enjoy a day out without the normal league pressure. Unfortunately though, one by-product of the current situation at Dundee United is that cup football has become an unnecessary distraction and much of the enjoyment of these occasions has evaporated. Personally it is something I have found quite sad about the last couple of years given the recent track record of doing quite well in domestic cup competitions. Realistically when next might we see United in a quarter-final or semi-final let alone a final?

As for the Alloa game if United were flying high at the top of the Championship it would be easy for me to say that Csaba Laszlo should play his strongest side with the faint hope of a cup run to enhance our season. The reality though is that we are not good enough to go very far in the competition and to be honest we have other priorities. Laszlo should use Saturday’s trip to Recreation Park as a fitness exercise for those on the fringes and needing to prove a point. We need to ensure that some of our players are building on their fitness and we need to give games to players who have been waiting on the bench. It isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be trying to win the match but we should put out a side that looks a little different to the one we have been seeing recently.

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A good win in the cup would at least put things on a positive spin for the home match against Morton a week on Saturday but there remains a cloud over the team at the moment and it is not going to be an easy few months as we head into the remaining league fixtures.

Personally a good shake up would be good for the squad so I would like to see Deniz Mehmet get a game over Harry Lewis. It has been a frustrating season for Deniz who probably thought he might have been given a more prominent role in the squad. He played quite well in the Irn-Bru Cup so I wouldn’t be against him playing against Alloa.

Ahead of him I would like to see Brandon Mason get 90 minutes if he is fit. The young fullback needs a bit of a confidence boost after his horror show against Falkirk. Rumours of him heading back to Watford seem to be a little off the mark but he apparently was down south for some physio so he may not be quite fully fit for Saturday. Another young defender, Cammy Ballantyne should also be getting a run out here. This game would be perfect for the returning defender to prove to Laszlo that he can provide real competition to the right-back slot (he is also pretty much the only natural right-back we have).

In the forward areas I wouldn’t be against Matty Smith or Logan Chalmers getting a shot and it would also make sense to give another 90 minutes to Emil Lyng to build on his match fitness. Resting the likes of Scott McDonald, Billy King and Willo Flood would be a good idea.

My team would be –

GK – Deniz Mehmet

 

RB – Cammy Ballantyne

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

LB – Brandon Mason

 

CM – Craig Slater

CM – Sam Stanton

 

RM – Matty Smith

CAM – Logan Chalmers

LM –  Paul McMullan 

 

ST – Emil Lyng

 

Subs – Harry Lewis, Jamie Robson, Paul Quinn, Willo Flood, Louis Appere,  Scott McDonald, Billy King.

Key Player – Emil Lyng Second week in a row as ‘key player’ for the big striker. A great opportunity for him to get off the mark and hopefully put in a good performance. He showed flashes against Dunfermline so will be looking to grow in confidence against Alloa.

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A good performance and win will at least settle a few nerves (especially amongst those fans who have travelled in huge numbers over the last few weeks). It is however the case that as soon as the full-time whistle goes on Saturday then the real hard work begins as we look ahead to the 15 remaining league games.