Let’s assume that on Tuesday night St.Mirren will be crowned 2017/18 Scottish Championship winners. They thoroughly deserve it. It will be interesting to see what they can achieve next season because although they will be up against it they are a very well run club with a plan for the future and a set of fans who are right behind the team, the board and the manager. They are the absolute antithesis of Dundee United. The title win will come under the lights of Tannadice and there will probably be more St.Mirren fans there than there will be United supporters. I am fully expecting the atmosphere amongst the home fans to be pretty horrible on Tuesday and I would like to congratulate the Saints on their title win. I would also like to thank the Dundee United board, players and management for allowing this to happen and for making this all possible. I’ve seen both Rangers and Celtic win titles at Tannadice and I will be there on Tuesday to see St.Mirren do the same, so as I say, thanks for that.
The Championship table as it stands shows us TWENTY ONE points behind a team that we were slightly ahead of at Christmas time. We are also now in a position where finishing 2nd is out of our hands because Livingston won their crucial game against Greenock Morton yesterday (for anyone like me who has forgotten what this means, apparently this is when you manage to win a really important match). The fact that St.Mirren will win the title against us is almost poetic and it is what these Dundee United players deserve after failure upon failure this season.
Yesterday the latest embarrassment came against Dumbarton, a side in such a dreadful goalscoring run of form that they had not scored a league goal against anyone other than Brechin since Boxing Day. Once again simple mistakes cost us. A ball over the top and two corners gifted Dumbarton three goals. It really is embarrassing and this is quite comfortably the worst group of players to play for the club since I started going to games in 1995. It is the same problems and the same fundamental errors that let us down week after week. The post-match interview from Csaba Laszlo was yet again a repetition of the same sound bites and empty words about players taking responsibility and us needing to learn from our mistakes. I fully expect St.Mirren to tear us apart on Tuesday night.
With all of that out the way lets look at the state of things as we approach the final five league games. We are currently in 4th spot and we sit three points behind Dunfermline (but have two games in hand over the Pars). Realistically the only other team in contention for a playoff spot would be Greenock Morton who occupy fifth and we are two points ahead of them (with one game in hand). You could argue that Inverness might make a late charge but they would have to go on an amazing run of form to get into the top four. Dunfermline, who only have three games remaining, can realistically hope for nine points out of nine whereas Morton, in my opinion, should be realistically aiming for about 6 or 7. This all means that I would think that to get a playoff spot United will need roughly 6 points out of the final 5 games. With our run-in being St.Mirren, Falkirk, Brechin, Queen of the South and Livingston that might actually be a difficult ask given our current form. What is also painfully clear is that we are not equipped for a promotion playoff challenge and we would undoubtedly fail if we do actually make it.
This season needs to end as soon as possible and Tuesday night will be yet another painful 90 minutes for the supporters. The fact that the opposition will probably leave the pitch as title winners is a fitting tribute to the worst Dundee United side in my lifetime.
Rudi Völler (right) pictured during the 1981-82 season. The former Germany manager played for 1860 Munich for only two seasons and left in 1982 when the club were relegated to the ‘Oberliga’ after financial difficulties meant they lost their license to play in the Bundesliga or Bundesliga 2.
Wilfried Kohlars of 1860 Munich (left) up against Franz Beckenbauer of Bayern Munich. Kohlars was part of the 1966 title winning team and played 141 times for the Munich club between 1963 and 1970.
1860 Munich pictured in 1966 winning the Bundesliga title for the first and only time. The lions won the title by finishing just three points ahead of Borussia Dortmund and, maybe more importantly, their city rivals Bayern Munich.
It is the double-header everyone was looking forward to and now it is time for the much-anticipated second half. Whilst most of the footballing universe were glued to their TVs on Tuesday night for the Champions League, a brave bunch of football fans gathered at Tannadice for the first leg of DUFC v DFC. A grand total of 3620 supporters turned up to witness a fairly assured Dundee United performance and a 2-0 victory for Csaba Laszlo’s men. It could have been more but a win is win and we have now reached the final run of games. If the side can make it another victory tomorrow then that would leave the team in a decent position for the remaining five fixtures. We are still in contention for the playoffs but it would take a very impressive run of victories for us to push Livingston all the way for second spot (although interestingly we play Livi on the last day of the league season).
After tinkering and tampering with the team and formation Laszlo has returned to a 4-2-3-1 with Stewart Murdoch being shifted in to a left back slot to replace Jamie Robson. To be fair to Murdoch he has played pretty well on the left hand side but he cannot be seen as a long-term left-back (or indeed right-back for that matter). The performance at Tannadice on Tuesday was solid enough although it probably should have yielded more goals. It was also yet again glaringly obvious that this United team are a soft touch and need to toughen up defensively. We are still making too many basic errors and inviting pressure when we don’t need to. Dumbarton were incredibly poor so although we played well there was also an element of the opposition maybe making us look good. We have games against St.Mirren and Falkirk up next and they will not give us the time and space Dumbarton did on Tuesday.
For tomorrow there shouldn’t be many changes and you would expect, given no fresh injury worries, that Laszlo may even stick with the same eleven. For me personally I would only make one change with Matty Smith being rested for either Thomas Mikkelsen or Scott Fraser. Despite bursting on to the scene a few weeks ago it has been a poor couple of games for Smith and he has been unable to make the most of his first team place.
My favoured lineup against Dumbarton would be…
GK – Harry Lewis
RB – Anthony Ralston
CB – Mark Durnan
CB – Bilel Mohsni
LB – Stewart Murdoch
CM – Willo Flood
CM – Sam Stanton
RM – Paul McMullan
CAM – Scott Fraser
LM – Billy King
ST – Scott McDonald
Subs – Deniz Mehmet, Jamie Robson, Craig Slater, William Edjenguele, Emil Lyng, Grant Gillespie, Matty Smith.
Key Man – Bilel Mohsni. Let’s get one thing straight, part of me still thinks that at any moment Bilel Mohsni is going to lose the plot and end someone’s career with a UFC style take down for no reason at all. However it had to be said that Mohsni has been absolutely brilliant for United in his few appearances so far. He has been composed on the ball and technically he is far superior to any other defender we have. I find it bizarre even saying this but we really should be considering offering him a longer contract to tie him down for next season at the very least.