As a Dundee United fan you get used to losing your best players to bigger clubs. It’s just the way the football food chain works. If we start to sound sorry for ourselves then please get a Queen’s Park fan to come along and remind us where we got Robertson, Spittal and Connolly from.
We have lost a lot of players to bigger teams over the years but this most recent culling felt the worst in a long time. The fans were outraged. The belief was that the club was no longer in a position to be forced to sell, but alas, here were our two most creative players holding up their Celtic shirts and talking about how it was an offer they could not turn down.
The season took a dramatic turn from that moment onwards. From sitting second in the league with one cup final secured and another up for grabs to finishing fifth with 12 losses in the last 18 games. It was truly horrific.
Whilst I cannot claim that the tide has turned, fans are feeling a little better about things. The Ciftci deal showed that the board are still capable of getting value for money. £1.5m for a player who was in the last year of their contract – with a potentially lengthy ban due – was an excellent piece of business.
The question now is, can United bounce back?
If you look at the squad there definitely is some depth there, but what about quality? There’s so much unknown about the side that it is really hard to tell.
One thing is for certain, there is still a shed-full of potential talent still at the club. John Souttar will undoubtedly make his breakout season having finally being moved into a holding midfielder role, Charlie Telfer has a ‘Scott Allan’ feel around him and Robbie Muirhead looks more and more like a bargain buy rather than a panic buy.
Outside of those who will definitely be in and around the first team are those who will be knocking hard on the door. Aiden Connolly and Blair Spittal will be looking to push on after having a season of experience under their belt, whilst Scott Fraser and Ali Coote are being hyped United’s next big playmaker.
In terms of new additions, United have brought in two central defenders with Mark Durnan and Coll Donaldson. Donaldson in particular has quite a hype around him, having been signed by QPR from Livingston at 18. There are also bids in for both Stevie May and Billy McKay – either of which would be a very exciting addition, having both proven their ability to score goals at this level.
The major concern for United fans is the one area which has been left untouched. Whilst Radoslaw Cierzniak was not the most solid goalkeeper in the world, the prospect of three 22 year-old’s battling it out for the jersey is a concern. Especially when the leading candidate literally dropped the ball on his chance last season.
Despite all the in’s and out’s at United, my opinion is that the performance of this team will come down to the one thing that has stayed constant from last season – Jackie McNamara.
The manager needs to get the best out of the players at his disposal and make the team play in the style that suits them or risk continuing on from where he left off last season.