Personally, I’m happy with the appointment of Mixu. There’s not much between him or the other candidates in that none come across as particularly exciting, but when you’re looking for a safe pair of hands to come in and arrest the decline that Dundee United have been in since February, that’s not the most important attribute.
Hell, Craig Levein wasn’t an exciting appointment, but he was exactly what we needed at the time.
And it’s interesting, because in his first day on the job, his comments about how he wants the team to show him work rate, desire and fitness before they think about fancy technique and flair are usually the sort that would make fans think “Aww no, what’s happened to the beautiful game?” but it’s exactly what United need.
Based on his post match interviews, I get the feeling that Jackie McNamara’s message to the players was that they were talented guys and ultimately that talent would always win over the sort of basic endeavour you’d see from some of the other teams in the league. It’s that sort of attitude that has got us into the position we’re in now. We’re bottom and we deserve to be.
For him to say that he felt that his team was on the verge of pumping another Premiership side by 4 or 5 goals when they couldn’t even win a 50-50 ball between them showed just how deluded he was in that respect.
Overall then, I think Mixu is the right man for the job as it stands now, and though it might take a few weeks for him to get the team playing the way he wants them to. Under his guidance, I think United are on the road to recovery.
But the fans have a role to play in that recovery too, because while there’s no doubt the club has been in distress since the sale of the Celtic twosome in February, the sheer negativity fans have shown in recent months has been depressing.
There’s this received wisdom now that everything the club does has some kind of sinister motive behind it. Even Paatelainen’s appointment has been met with mixed feelings, with some fans – you know, the ones who think Stephen Thompson is some kind of tyrannical Mr. McMahon style figure who hates his customers – have criticised the club for going for the cheap option.
The same fans who complain about the club spending too much money are also complaining because they weren’t spending hundreds of thousands of pounds which could help strengthen the squad in January to appoint John Hughes.
It’s just boring now.
I’m not saying that the board have acted perfectly this year because they quite clearly have not, but at the same time, they did back McNamara financially with a budget that managers of other Premiership sides would kill for.
It’s not the board’s fault that McNamara threw cash away on five strikers who have so far managed to score 6 goals between them in 64 games, nor can they be blamed for his failure to sign a winger, a midfield enforcer, an experienced goalkeeper or a leader for the defence when all the fans could see that’s what was needed. He chose to sign those guys when the likes of Ross County have recruited fantastically and on a far smaller budget.
Similarly, in spite of some fans passionately arguing that the root of the problem is Stephen Thompson, I just can’t see why a reportedly frosty relationship between the board and the manager would lead to players not wanting to go in for 50/50 challenges or a few of the players being noticeably unfit and overweight. It just doesn’t tally.
For me, those problems were entirely down to Jackie and Jackie’s gone. Moreover, he’s taken his contract with a cut of player sales – a source of so much tension between the club and the supporters – with him.
The only thing I could blame the board for is not punting him in the summer or – failing that – after the Hamilton game. He was a dead man walking since the four games against Celtic in the spring.
That’s behind us now though, so let’s cheer up, get behind the team and rally them back up to the right end of the table.
I believe we’ve got the right man in the job to help us do it.