It has been a season of ups and downs for Dundee United and their fans. Good cup runs came to a crushing halt at the hands of Celtic on both occasions. And they lost fourth place in the league on the final day of the season after a last minute winner from St.Johnstone. Dundee United blogger Stuart Milne looks back on United’s season.
Did your club overachieve, meet expectations or underachieve? and why?
Before the season began, I think most Arabs would have been satisfied with a Cup Final and a top-six finish, regardless of the budgets of the other teams in the league.
But considering how well we were doing up until the beginning of February, our final league placing can’t be considered anything other than a great disappointment.
How do you rate your manager? What did he do or fail to do?
There are aspects of McNamara’s style I like. He tries to play attacking football, he gives youth a chance (and unlike some fans, I really don’t care if he’s rewarded financially for that) and he’s reasonably open with the fans.
But he’s shown that he’s incapable of ironing out the deficiencies in our defensive system, and so we’re still ridiculously vulnerable to losing a goal when the opposition has a corner or free-kick near our box.
And as much as he likes to play attacking football, he doesn’t realise that sometimes you have to change tactics if they aren’t working or the opposition has worked us out.
On the whole, I’d have been happy to see him depart at the end of the season, but it doesn’t look like it’ll happen.
As such, he’ll get my full support when play resumes in August.
Who were your standout players of the season? and why?
For the first half of the season, Chris Erskine was in great form; immeasurably better than when he first debuted for the club in 2013/14.
But like almost everyone else, he failed to shine in the latter half of 2014/15.
The main standouts for me would be John Souttar, who looks like he’ll fulfil his high potential playing in midfield, and Robbie Muirhead, who I think will kick on and be a big player for us next season.
Who failed to impress? and why?
Recurring injury meant that Mario Bilate failed to make any sort of impact in the team, while – and this is not entirely his fault – Henri Anier looks like he’ll go down as one of our worst signings of the past few seasons.
And in general, our defence let us down. Conceding 22 more goals than the team one place above us in the league is unacceptable, especially when we managed to score 24 more goals than them over the course of the season.
What would you change or focus on within the club over summer?
On the park, we need to bring in a new goalkeeper, an experienced centre back to organise the defence and some pace in the wide areas to replace the sorely missed duo of Gary Mackay Steven and Stuart Armstrong.
Off the park I’d like to see the uncertainty at boardroom level sorted out. If Stephen Thompson wants out, then he should go.
What are your expectations for next season?
In theory, if we don’t make the right signings, we could find ourselves struggling to finish in the top six next season.
But I have faith that the team will be strengthened accordingly, and that the young players at the club – and it’s easy to forget how many inexperienced kids we do field compared to our rivals – will improve both in terms of physicality and overall ability.
As such, I think we’ll finish in roughly the same position next year.