Tag Archives: Queen of the South

Match Preview – Queen of the South vs Dundee United

A week is a long time in football.

After I published my St.Mirren match preview I was sent three separate messages via Twitter and Facebook accusing me of being overly pessimistic. I would argue that the match preview didn’t contain anything that wasn’t true and that it was written after a series of very, very poor performances. Maybe it was Csaba who messaged me and then decided to pin the report up in the Tannadice dressing room because less than 24 hours later Dundee United produced, in many ways, the performance of the season so far. To deny St.Mirren the title at Tannadice was important for the players but more so for the fans. The team has since followed that win with another 3 points against Falkirk and then again against Brechin on Tuesday night. It gives us all hope that maybe, just maybe, the season might still have a few surprises left. We are in a very strong position to secure at least a playoff spot and you can now begin to even dream about a 2nd place finish. If we did somehow finish behind St.Mirren it would give the team some extra rest before the playoff fixtures. It requires Livi dropping points but they may well do that against Inverness next Tuesday night as the Highland side can still sneak into the playoffs and they will travel to the Tony Macaroni Arena full of confidence after a remarkable run of wins. If David Hopkin’s men do drop points then the last league game of the season will be a really exciting fixture to look forward to. It also looks like Csaba has finally found a fairly settled side that can produce some consistency at the right time. Is everything falling in to place?

The most pleasing aspect about the last few games and, in particular, the St.Mirren performance is the fact that we have played like a Championship team. By that I mean we are a bit happier to kick folk, waste a little time and ‘play the game’ a little bit in terms of sportsmanship. For some it might be a little much but for me and most United fans it is a refreshing and satisfying style of play because it shows another side to a team that we have been questioning. We are not out of the woods, there are still flaws, but the last three games have shown us a different Dundee United.

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There is no doubt that the game on Saturday is a must win. Hopefully this newly galvanised group of players can yet again produce the goods and, as long as the footballing gods are smiling on us, it means we can then begin to look forward to a final day showdown against Livingston.

What we will definitely need in Dumfries is another strong performance by our defenders and goalkeeper. Amazingly we have now managed three clean sheets in a row, something that would have been unthinkable a few fixtures previous. Praise must be given to Deniz Mehmet who has now probably cemented his number one spot for the remaining games and it has been very pleasing to watch the development of Tony Ralston who is growing with each passing minute on the pitch. There is also no doubt that we are now beginning to see the real value in our surprise signing of Bilel Mohsni. He may well have been a figure of fun before he arrived at Tannadice but he is clearly the best defender we have and he could be the key to any possible playoff success (ironic given his history in these games). Reports today suggest we are trying to negotiate a contract extension for the defender, whose contract expires this summer.

It was mentioned the other day that we now have more points than we did last season which feels a bit strange given the overall disappointment in this campaign. Make no mistake, if we do not get promoted it will be seen as a failure but we are at least putting ourselves in a position to make it a possibility, regardless of how slight a chance that might be.

All talk of the boardroom strife and potential investment is probably going to put in hold over the next four weeks as these season, and potentially club, defining games begin. It would be fantastic if this squad can give us something to get excited about in the month of May.

Match Preview – Dundee United vs Queen of the South

Should football be enjoyed or endured? The more I think about that question the more I think it is the latter. On Saturday, in the bitterly cold weather, we yet again witnessed an insipid Dundee United performance and one that can be added to a very long and growing list. The club is planning on releasing the season ticket packages tomorrow but to be honest they would be best holding off for a bit given the ‘entertainment’ served up on the park. It is becoming harder and harder to justify spending time and money watching a team that you know will fail you more often than not. It isn’t that fans expect their team to be brilliant every week and nobody expects free-flowing, dynamic football but the absolute basics are posted missing every week. No fight, no energy, no desire. On Saturday we made an average Inverness side look comfortable and fluid on the ball. If they had decent strikers then we could have easily been 3 or 4 down at half-time. The second 45 did see us muster a bit of enthusiasm from somewhere but it was another performance that fell way, way short. There is no ’cause’ to fight for at the moment. We don’t have a feeling of unity amongst the players and unlike a Livingston or St.Mirren there is no sense of togetherness about the team. The overly negative system deployed by Laszlo means that it feels as though United are playing catch-up during the early stages of each game and it allows every other team to press us high up the park. The fans deserve better, especially at home.

One other concerning aspect of Saturday’s game, the first home game in about six weeks, was the malaise in the crowd. Numbers are down, yet again, plus the atmosphere isn’t even one of anger anymore it is one of apathy. When football fans become apathetic about their own team then you are in serious trouble. The crowd tomorrow against Queen of the South will easily fall below 4000 and it could be even worse. For a club like Dundee United it is deeply worrying. The board are budgeting for a 10% drop in season tickets next year but unless, if by some miracle, we start winning games and entertaining the fans then that drop may be at least double their estimate. This run of fixtures could be a fantastic opportunity to bring back the fans and build some great momentum but if the next 12 or so games are anything like the game on Saturday then it could do some real, long-lasting, damage to the club.

Now finally for some teams news….(and a repetition of about 10 different previous match previews). We need to drop Harry Lewis, we need to not play Stewart Murdoch at right-back, we need to drop Jamie Robson, we need to not play one upfront, we need to not sit defensively and let the away side take the game to us and we need to NEVER play Paul Quinn as a defensive midfielder again. The manager has pretty much a full squad again so he needs to begin to use some of the players that he has overlooked. A grand total of one January signing started on Saturday. The likes of Gillespie, Lyng, Slater and Mason have either made no impact or have been underused.

 

My ideal team for tomorrow would be –

GK – Deniz Mehmet

 

RB – Anthony Ralston

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – William Edjenguele

LB – Tam Scobbie

 

RM – Paul McMullan

CM – Sam Stanton

CM – Grant Gillespie

LM – Billy King

 

 

ST – Scott McDonald

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

 

Subs – Harry Lewis, Emil Lyng, Jamie Robson, Willo Flood, Matty Smith, Craig Slater, Scott Fraser.

Key Player – Scott McDonald – I’ve been incredibly critical of Scott McDonald and with good reason, but it has to be said he made a real difference when he came on against Inverness. The move to a 442 meant he was given the freedom of the frontline and he used his experience to create space in the lines between the midfield and the strikers.

Match Preview – Dundee United vs Queen of the South

I’ll be honest, I have no idea what to expect on Tuesday night when Queen of the South visit Tannadice. The loss to Livingston felt like more than just a sore defeat. It was the realisation that not only are we nowhere near the standard required to lift the Championship title, we are also now in serious danger of even securing a decent playoff spot. The manner in which United have approached recent games has resulted in fans beginning to turn their back on the team and I will predict by far and away the lowest league crowd of the season on Tuesday. Supporters don’t have to spend their time and money on going to see their team and at the moment the ‘product’ being served up on the park is terrible. Add to that the atmosphere surrounding the club, further poisoned by the sale of Gussie Park late in the week, and you cannot begrudge any fan who decides that they might rather stay in house on Tuesday night (and again on Friday). In my opinion we have hit very damaging tipping point and I fully expect season ticket numbers for next year to be very, very low unless, if by some miracle, the club manages to turn things around.

At team level questions are now being asked of Csaba Laszlo. Despite an early boost when he arrived in November we have become a pretty sorry excuse of a football team. Strange selections and tactics have led to some early calls for yet another change in manager. Yes we have been hampered by injuries but even the basic elements of a decent side are missing. We lack energy and purpose. We have no fluidity to our play and we are far too predictable. It is also pretty evident that psychologically the team are incredibly weak. The game against Livingston was the perfect comparison of two sides who, at the moment, are at the opposite ends of the footballing spectrum.

Moving on to the match itself we are facing a Queen of the South team who have also been quite patchy since Christmas. Despite having the league’s best player, Stephen Dobbie, they have stuttered in the league recently and on paper United should be looking to capitalise on that. From an outsiders point of view this fixture is quite intriguing with two teams short on confidence facing each other in the midst of a busy schedule.

There hasn’t been much in the way of news regarding injuries for this one and apparently Laszlo was quite happy with what he saw on Friday night so I wouldn’t expect too many changes. Personally I am more than happy to draw a line under one or two who continue to disappoint and there are some fringe players who have not been given enough of a chance to impress. I would advocate a drastic tactical change to test out what we might be able to offer with different personnel and a different shape (plus we should just be going for it now) but I doubt Laszlo will switch from his preferred system.

 

My experimental team to face Queen of the South would be –

GK – Deniz Mehmet

 

CB – Mark Durnan

CB – Tam Scobbie

CB – William Edjenguele

 

RM – Matty Smith

CM – Sam Stanton

CM – Willo Flood

LM – Billy King

 

RF – Paul McMullan

ST – Thomas Mikkelsen

LF – Logan Chalmers

 

Subs – Harry Lewis, Cammy Ballantyne, Grant Gillespie, Scott McDonald, Paul Quinn, Emil Lyng, Idris Kadded.

Key Player – ???? – I don’t really know now to be honest. The most reliable players in the team are probably only Sam Stanton and maybe Mark Durnan. The rest have been inconsistent at best with some really letting themselves down. I suppose I might argue Matty Smith but only because it would be great to see one or two young players lift our spirits a little and show a bit of fight.

Scottish Championship Mid-Term Report Card – Queen of the South

Challenge – Try to write this report and not mention Stephen Dobbie every other sentence.

Queen of the South are pretty much Championship veterans now and they have managed in the last few seasons to be there or there abouts almost every year. They are normally quite good value for the odd big result and it is always the case that teams tend to worry about their trips to Palmerston as being the games that see them slip up. It has been another season of decent runs of form mixed in with a few terrible results but so far, in general, things have been okay (but not great).

Getting their own fans to come and watch Queens has been an issue over the past few seasons and crowds are not that impressive again this year. They have tried to entice more supporters to the games but it remains that they have one of the lower average attendances and by default this then affects their budgets and ability to sign players. It is for this reason that they are probably now in a situation where they feel like they don’t really know what the next steps are. The investment opportunities are not really there to be able to push them towards a title challenge but at the same time they are safe enough at the moment that relegation is not really a concern.

January Wishlist – For me Queens need to shore up their back line and the fact that they have conceded more goals than everyone bar the bottom two means they need to sign a couple of defenders at the very least. They have already secured the services of Myles Beerman from Rangers so he should provide additional cover defensively (although he is predominantly a fullback). Further forward they need some more bodies in the middle of the park. The midfield is not dominant enough and there is no ‘presence’ in there. With the departing Chris Kane it is also important that Queens add to their forward line. It doesn’t help they are tight budget wise and will, like others, be competing for similar players.

Player of the Season (so far) – I’ve been saving up my Stephen Dobbie mentions so I might as well go for it now. The 35-year old is probably the best player in the Championship and there are a number of Premiership sides who would be desperate to land his services. A bona fide Queen of the South legend he is now the fifth highest goalscorer in the club’s near 100 year history and is probably the best Queens player of the ‘modern era’. It isn’t just his goalscoring, technically he is a superb footballer with a wonderful range of passing. He reckons he has another two seasons in him. Let’s wait and see…

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Predicted Finish – 7th. Firstly, sorry. Secondly the only real reason that I have put Queens in 7th is that I have used up the other slots above them and to be honest 4th-8th is a total lottery. One of the reasons I think they might fall away a little is the reliance on Dobbie. They are not a one man team but if he was to pick up an injury or a suspension then the goals suddenly dry up. It might not happen but I think that some of the teams in and around Queen of the South might make a bigger push as the season reaches its critical stages. This is also a squad that is already a bit thin on the ground so much depends on January dealings.

Manager Grade – C. Generally speaking I’m a fan of Gary Naysmith and I have no doubt that he will have a decent career in management. It is however the case that maybe things are not quite as ‘fresh’ as they once were when he initially took over at Queen of the South. The team has stalled over the last year or so and it is looking like Naysmith, despite having a very tight budget, is maybe not quite getting the best out of what is available to him. He is at a stage in this job where he has been there long enough to be judged and it might be that come the end of the season he may need to move on if they do not progress in the league.

Overall Grade – B. Another season of ups and downs in Dumfries. A few good performances and watching Dobbie boss games has seen the fans enjoy a fair chunk of the season but there are also serious frailties in this side and maybe it is time for a freshening up of the coaching staff. On their day it feels like either Queens are running riot or failing badly and there is little in between. It must be incredibly frustrating for fans to watch their team flip from one type of performance to another but at the same time it must also be worrying that this side don’t seem to have a strong identity or consistency about them. Small home crowds and tightening budgets also mean that in such a tough league they may find themselves slipping down the league table not only this season but possible next too.

SPFL Manager Awards 2014/15 – Championship

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Championship Managers of the Year 2014/15

1. No real doubt about this – Robbie Neilson. From the very start of this unique Championship season his Hearts team set the pace and were pretty much unchallenged as they romped the league. CEAqe56WEAENtZ0You could argue that Hearts had a large budget and the backing of a tremendous support but the story is more complicated than that as Neilson had to help rebuild the club that were very nearly on the brink. His team play effective and attacking football that has been too much for the other sides in the division and there is no doubt that Hearts are a top flight club. They will now hope that Neilson could be the man to help get them back to the standing they deserve but Neilson may attract interest from other clubs if he continues this impressive start to his managerial career. Credit too to Craig Levein and Anne Budge as they also played a major role in this Hearts revival.

2. Just like in the league table Hibs again finish below Hearts. Last season was a season to forget for both Edinburgh teams but more so for Hibs as they crashed out of the Premiership in embarrassing fashion. After that relegation the decision was made very quickly that things needed to change at the club. 1664638876With a new Chief Executive on board (the very impressive Leeann Dempster) they moved to appoint an inexperienced head coach in the shape of Alan Stubbs. Things did not start very well for the former Celtic player and their early season form suggested that Hibs yet again failed to appoint the right man. Times have changed though and Hibs have been very impressive over the majority of this Championship season. They finished in second place and will be aiming to achieve top flight football through the playoffs. Even if that doesn’t happen Stubbs has Hibs moving in the right direction with the emergence of young talent and some decent transfer business (Scott Allan is the pick of the bunch).

3. In third spot we have another team aiming for promotion through the playoffs. Rangers? No, you must be joking! The final spot on the Championship list goes to James Fowler at Queen of the South. JS58831187After Jim McIntyre left for Ross County the club didn’t have to look far for someone to take over the reins. For Fowler it meant having the job of a player/manager and becoming a full-time member of staff (there are only two at the club). He deserves massive credit for the huge amount of work he has put in this year. With a small budget and not many around him he has filled his time with more than just managerial responsibilities. Fowler and the Queens fans will all be looking forward to their playoffs but they can all also look forward to a bright future under Fowler’s management. He has good ideas about what he wants and he is a young, driven and enthusiastic manager with a big future.

 

Tomorrow, League One’s top three managers…