Tag Archives: Livingston

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. 


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.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 20.49.53

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.

Scottish Championship Mid-Term Report Card – Livingston

I’ve been looking forward to this. Every team I have written about so far seems to have an underlying tone of negativity. Not here. Not at the Toni Macaroni Arena. Livingston won the 2016/17 League One title at a canter so had time and space to plan for this immediate return to Championship football. Spirits were already high coming in to this campaign and David Hopkin has now been in charge for two years so knows the club well and knows what to do to get the best out of his players. imgID129635145His managerial record is pretty fantastic and this season has seen a few admiring glances from sides who have parted company with their own managers. At the moment though he is fully focused on continuing Livingston’s very impressive season. Livi have been there or there abouts all campaign and they are still within touching distance of the top despite a couple of slight falters recently. The fans have been delighted with what they have seen this season and it has been great to see as an outsider. Of all the supporters in the division the Livi lot have the freedom to enjoy their season and what it might bring. Enjoyment is a luxury that most football fans don’t have! Since week seven Hopkin’s men have not been out of the playoff spots and you would think that if they replicate even some of their early form after January then they will comfortably end the season in the top four.

One slight concern for fans given the season they have had will be the potential for this team to be ripped apart. How often do we see teams doing well and then losing half a dozen players? Currently there are over 15 who are out of contract in the summer.  That is a huge number and some are already attracting interest, like the team captain Craig Halkett. It is the price of success and unfortunately Livingston are a club that, in the long term, cannot compete financially with others in the division and in the Premiership. It means that as a club they can give a platform for young, talented players but they know that they might lose those them after a short while. Of course most Livingston supporters have been through pretty much anything and everything you can experience supporting a football club so none of this will come as too much of a shock to them.

January Wishlist – The real focus in January is to try and extend some of the contracts that are expiring and to be able to hold on to some of the players that have been attracting interest. They can do with adding a little bit of depth here and there with upfront being a priority (but it is for pretty much every team in the league). They have already missed out on a striker, Nathan Austin, due to another team offering a better financial package so they will have to be patient this month. The loan market has proved useful and could be another avenue to explore. Today they have moved to sign Jordan Thompson on loan from Rangers. 

Player of the Season (so far) – Take your pick. Spoiled for choice here especially in the defensive areas given Livingston’s organisational strength. JS131342737Midfielder Scott Pittman is a perfect foil in front of the defence in terms of breaking things up but my pick comes in the shape of captain fantastic Craig Halkett. The 22-year old leads out Livingston every week and looks every bit the part. Many reckon he could be the best defender in the league and it looks a certainty that he will move on sooner rather than later. He should go on to have a very good career.

Predicted Finish – 3rd. Momentum is massive and if Livi can hold on to the core of their team and not lose any players due to expiring contracts then they should be good enough to finish in the top four. They know what to expect in the second half of the season and they know that they can compete against every team in the division. Securing important results and edging out teams like Dunfermline and Morton will be vital but everything will come down to not losing key players.

Manager Grade – A. Can’t really say anything negative about Hopkin. Along with Stevie Aitken at Dumbarton and Jack Ross at St.Mirren you could make a case for him being the best manager in the division at the moment. He will have a decision to make in the near future because the chances are he will be offered an opportunity at a bigger team soon. He would probably benefit from another season at Livingston but if his squad gets decimated in the summer then he would be within his right to seek out a fresh challenge.

Overall Grade – A. Definitely the success story of the year so far. A team punching above its weight on the pitch they have managed to surprise everyone and may well get the reward at the end of it all by playing an important role in the title race if they can hold on to their players. Fans must be delighted that after such a turbulent few years they can finally enjoy their football on the pitch and it certainly seems that the board are doing a pretty good job at ensuring the future of Livingston (although the exact picture isn’t totally clear). The stadium ownership is still an uncertainty that long-term might need a solution and the board will also have a decision to make in the coming months; what next? Do they push and try to challenge again next season? The focus might be more about stability and ensuring that the club becomes a competitive Championship side with a clear plan and clear budget. One thing they do need to start doing, in my opinion, is offering players longer deals with more security and possibly sell-on clauses or future payments so that they do not lose players for nothing.

SPFL Manager Awards 2014/15

250px-Scottish_Professional_Football_League.svgIt is that time of year again when fans are making their overall judgements on how good or how bad a season they have had, with many probably looking to the manager to take the credit (or more likely the blame). Each year there are some managers that cover themselves in glory and seem to be able to get the best out of their players, but on the other hand it is part and parcel of the football calendar that each year we see head coaches lose that bit of spark they once had or fail completely at their job. With various awards being handed out around this time of year it is only fair that we recognise the achievements of those men who lead from the front.

The Perennial Underachievers managerial awards will be handed out (not literally) on a league-by league basis over the next week with a top three in each division (I am cheating a little here, I just didn’t want to upset anyone and pick one). You may agree or disagree with these selections but each has gone through a rigorous set of checks to be awarded with their coveted 1st, 2nd or 3rd place award.

We will start with a ‘special mention’ post for those who just missed out and we will end on a ‘would rather be forgotten’ section for the few managers who have been hounded by fans and the media for simply not doing very well!

 Special Mentions



As a point of principal I would never nominate a Celtic manager for a domestic managerial award.  This is mainly down to the fact that it is a given that Celtic should walk the Premiership. Ronny Deila has led Celtic to a 46th league title with a playing style based around pressing opponenHowever it has to be said that Ronny Deila has been a breath of fresh air in terms of how he handles himself and how he has Celtic playing. After a sticky start they are now playing a much better brand of football compared to their style under Neil Lennon.

At Aberdeen Derek McInnes has continued his impressive tenure with another fine season but much of his hard work was done last year so he has just missed out on an award. Derek-McInnes-573645Tommy Wright at St.Johnstone is continuing the very solid and consistent development of his St.Johnstone side so he deserves a mention too.

Finally there is a manager who made a huge impact on the Premiership this year but is missing from the final list, mainly due to him not being here anymore. Alex Neil worked wonders with the Hamilton team and for much of the early season they were playing some brilliant football, beating anyone and everyone in their path. He was rightly awarded for his efforts with the chance to manage in the English Championship with Norwich.



The Championship this year has been a fascinating watch in terms of how teams adapted to having a very top-heavy league with the addition of Hearts, Hibs and Rangers. This season has seen a fairly definite split in the league so the first honourable mention comes from the lower end of the league. JS61361764Although he has only been in charge since December it has to be said that Mark Burchill deserves a mention as he has been in charge of Livingston during a very turbulent time for the club. He has managed to win some important matches at the tail end of this season despite an atmosphere of chaos behind the scenes. Saving Livi from relegation is a massive achievement.

One manager who was so very close to being on the winners list is Peter Houston. falkirk-football-full-length-hibernian-hibs_3292164He does seem to divide the Falkirk fans at times, and although he did not manage to get his team into the playoffs this season (something most fans would have expected) he does get huge credit for getting Falkirk to their first Scottish Cup final in six years. More will be expected from him in the league next season.

League One

The league’s big boys have struggled for large parts of the League One campaign so there is a slightly surprising look to the top of the table as we end the season and credit must go to those managers in charge of sides like Stranraer, Forfar and Brechin (more on them later though). bigIt has been a fine campaign again for Gary Bollan at Airdrie as he continues to build the foundations of a side that will surely be challenging for promotion next year, the fans will be looking for that extra push next season as they have moved slowly up the league table in recent campaigns. Last year’s League Two winners Peterhead have also navigated themselves through a tricky year with a very respectable position and Jim McInally was once again at the heart of that. The Blue Toon have provided a stern test to everyone in the league and they too might be looking towards the playoffs next year.

It isn’t often you leave a league winning manager off of an awards list (Ronny Deila you are in good company) but for me Jim Duffy misses out on an award partly down to the fact that although Morton did win the title is was done rather laboriously and at times this season Morton really struggled under his stewardship.


League Two

Another league that threw up some surprises (and one that ended up quite differently to my early year prediction) was League Two. A special mention to two managers here, first of all Jim Weir at Elgin. He has taken a side that finished 9th last season and ensured that they were fighting towards to the top end of the table this year.307693-arbroaths-allan-moore-named-league-2-manager-of-the-month-for-august-2014 They had an inconsistent season but one that was a big improvement on the previous campaign. The big managerial rollercoaster of the year has to be the story of the quite brilliant but then totally awful Arbroath. Before Christmas Allan Moore had the team taking apart almost every team in the division, scoring goals for fun in the process. Despite all that the Lichties suffered a total collapse in form that saw them win only once in 16 matches. Moore was relieved of his duties and Arbroath have since claimed a playoff place (just) so he still deserves credit for those early season performances.


Tomorrow, the Premiership’s top three managers…

Scottish Football 2014/15 – The Championship – Livingston and Queen of the South





Summary of last season – Livi were a real mixed bag last year. They never did have quite enough to properly challenge for playoff places at the top of the league but similarly they were never in really danger of being relegated. They started the season with Richie Burke in charge but he quickly departed the club and in September former Hearts manager John McGlynn was given the job of manager. A large turnover in players used meant that Livingston were very inconsistent last term but John McGlynn did manage to steady the ship to make sure that there was never any danger of having to fight a relegation battle and they finished the season in 6th place. At the end of the campaign it was announced that standout youngster Mark McNulty was to leave the club for a new career at Sheffield United.

Players in – Gary Glen (Striker, Ross County), David Robertson (Midfielder, Greenock Morton), Declan Gallagher (Defender, Dundee), Myles Hippolyte (Striker, Brentford), Jordan White (Striker, Stirling Albion), Rob Ogleby (Striker, Wrexham), Bradley Donaldson (Defender, Hibernian), Michael McKenna (Midfielder, Musselburgh Athletic).

Players out – Marc McNulty (Sheffield United, undisclosed), Martin Scott (Raith Rovers),  Andrew Barrowman (Greenock Morton), Kyle Turnbull (Albion Rovers), Players released – Michal Habai, Nejc Mevlja, Mike Mampuya, Kyle Wilkie, Ross Docherty, Jordan Baillie, Taylor Black, David Bonnar, Dylan Clark, Jed Davie, Jack Downie, George Hunter, Kyle Martin, Scott Wilson

What they still need – At the moment it seems as though John McGlynn is reasonably happy with the squad he has. The team does still need a little bit of cover in certain areas but it does look fairly balanced and there are options around the park. They could do with a little extra defensive cover and a versatile defender would add depth to the squad. Possibly in the middle of the park they are still a little light so could also use an extra body in there. It might be the case that January will be an important time depending on how Livi start the season. Fans will hope that the squad is a little more settled this year and that they can get a bit more consistency in the team.

New signing Declan Gallagher.

Key player(s) – Of all the signings that the club have made over the summer there is one that stands out. Former Dundee defender Declan Gallagher has signed on with Livingston this year and he will be one of the stars in this side. A commanding central defender he was a key part of the Dundee team that won last the Championship last year and he will feel as though he could have been a part of the Dundee side in the Premiership. There have been some well documented off-the-field issues in Gallagher’s personal life but if there is one man that can help keep a young player like Gallagher focused it is John McGlynn. Playing right behind Gallagher is one of the division’s best young goalkeepers. Darren Jamieson is a local lad who has risen through the Livingston youth ranks to become the team’s undoubted number one. He put is some fantastic performances last year and despite the odd dip in form he is a young goalkeeper with a great future.

Opinion on Livingston – John McGlynn is an experienced coach and will know what needs to be done to perform in this division. It is a very unique season in the Championship this year with three heavyweights being added to the league so Livingston will have to really be switched in if they are to perform well this year. The club will be one of a number of sides that will really benefit from large crowds visiting from (in particular) Edinburgh so the board will be pleased in the business side of things. On the park it looks like there will be a massive challenge ahead and it remains to be seen if losing their star striker will mean Livi can still score the goals to ensure they are safe in the division. Livingston have not invested heavily in their squad and in a season where they are guaranteed a few big pay days the fans would maybe have liked a bit more investment in the playing staff.

Prediction for this season – 8th



Queen of the South

Summary of last season – Queens finished fourth last year but it could have been (and possibly should have been) so much better. If it was not for some pretty horrible early season form then they would have been challenging for the title itself. For a time last year it did look like the early form could have spelled the end for manager Jim McIntyre but as the season went on the performances improved and they did manage to achieve a playoff place. They lost that playoff to Falkirk  but the season as a whole was a success despite some poor early results. One thing that did make a difference last campaign was the fact that Queens turned into an incredibly difficult team to beat. They had a very good defensive record last season and they managed to see games out when they were ahead.

Players in – James Fowler (Defender/Coach, Kilmarnock), John Baird (Striker, Raith Rovers), Lewis Kidd (Defender/Midfielder, Celtic), Zander Clark (Goalkeeper – Loan, St Johnstone)

Players out – Derek Young (Forfar Athletic), Calum Antell (Free), Bob McHugh (End of Loan)

What they still need – Hats off to Jim McIntyre. This will be a massive season in the Championship and in preparation for that he has tied up his transfer business incredibly early in order to work with the squad for as long as he can. The team has been kept intact and McIntyre has added some key players to the squad to keep things fresh. For now the side looks complete and there are enough options in the squad so Queens can make changes in both personnel and tactically. Having a settled team and squad is rare so it is refreshing to see a team do things differently.

James Fowler can play across the back four and in midfield.

Key player(s) – The fans will be delighted to see the return of a player that made a real difference last season. Zander Clark is on loan from St.Johnstone and the young goalkeeper is well like by the Queen of the South fans for good reason. His arrival last year coincided with the improvement in form and he is an excellent young prospect. Someone else that will make an impact this year both on and off the pitch is James Fowler. It might be a bit of a surprise choosing him is a key player but he will bring a wealth of experience to this side at an important time and he is also going to play a major role in the coaching setup at the club. Kilmarnock fans think he could have still done a job for them so to get a player like Fowler is a shrewd piece of business for Queen of the South.

Opinion on Queen of the South – It looks like it might be a straight race between Queens and Falkirk for 4th spot this year. With the ‘big three’ in the league it will be very difficult for teams to break into that group so the challenge is to try and secure that final playoff spot. It is so crucial that McIntyre gets his side off to a better start this year. Queens showed last season that once they have a bit of momentum behind them they can win games very well but they will have to improve their results against the better teams in the league, something they really struggled with last season. Right now it looks like they have a better squad than the majority of the league but it might be the performances against Falkirk, Rangers, Hearts and Hibs that will ultimately tell just how good they could be.

Prediction for this season – 5th