At the risk of sounding like a football hipster, I was calling for McNamara’s sack at the start of the year – way before it became cool! And like any true hipster, now that everyone else thinks it is a good idea, I’m not so sure about it.
I’m not saying I’m convinced he is the man for the job, but I definitely want to give him just a little bit longer. Why? Because on Saturday I saw the most exciting United attacking performance since Gauld got confused about which green and white striped team our young players are meant to head off for.
I know it was a poor Kilmarnock side. I know we lost. I know we only scored one goal. I know we missed a bunch of sitters. But you are lying if you didn’t find that game exciting! We moved the ball quickly and found space time and time again. This was done with a brand new formation, style and a fair few new players. If we play like that going forward and start to gel, we will score goals and a lot of them – especially with a player as good as Billy McKay leading the charge.
The problem is that this change was 3, 6, 9 or even 12 months overdue. So, the time he would normally have to see if these big changes make the difference is gone. If he gets kept on for the Inverness game next week, you surely have to think that’s do or die for him.
I want to see us go out next week with the same side but Dixon in for Dillon. Dixon has been well below par since returning to Tannadice but this was the formation he excelled in when he was last here. He’d have Kuhl sitting in for him when he goes forward and he’d have McKay and Taggart to aim for. If you take his crossing out of his game you are never going to get the best out of him. It’d be like telling James Forrest he isn’t allowed to make any runs or telling Lee McCulloch he can’t elbow people in the face.
If you had Dixon, Durnan, Morris and McGowan with Zwick behind them and Kuhl in front of them, I’d be pretty excited about that. Kuhl has a good awareness about him and always wants the ball, something I love in a holding midfielder. Morris is a powerhouse at the back and Durnan had looked good until the last few weeks, so hopefully a strong pairing at the back will get the best of him. As for McGowan, he’s getting better every week I see him.
Going forward we’ve always had the talent but lacked the missing pieces of the jigsaw. Billy McKay is a game changer for us. Whilst Kuhl bringing the ball out from the back definitely helps, it’s McKay getting in those spaces between the midfield and the attack and linking the play that’s going to make this team click. I am ashamed to admit it but I thought he was just a bit of a poacher – how wrong I was.
If he helps us get the best out of exciting talents like Scott Fraser, Blair Spittal, Charlie Telfer, Ryan Dow and Aiden Connolly then we’ll cause problems to every defence. Darko Bodul even looked the best I’ve seen him since he got here (lovely feet but absolutely no lungs on him!).
So in conclusion, yes there’s lots of reasons why McNamara could, and maybe should, be packing his bags right now but this Arab would rather give him a couple more games to see what this new team does. It’s been horrific recently but I think he might just be able to get back the flair that he had when he first came to Tannadice. Or maybe that’s me just yearning for the ‘early stuff’ as usual.