Today the news broke that Robbie Muirhead had left Dundee United by mutual consent, despite having more than a year left on his contract. It’s a strange situation, especially for neutrals that don’t follow the club.
Here’s a guy who was signed for around £150,000; a fee that is huge by Scottish standards and whose departure from Kilmarnock resulted in the resignation of their manager, Allan Johnston.
Many people assumed that he’d be the next player to progress at the Tannadice club and potentially move on for a decent fee in the future. I have to admit I was one of those people.
But beneath the surface, this transfer summed up the shambles that is Dundee United perfectly.
Depending on whose opinion you seek, Robbie Muirhead was either not given a chance or – to put it tactfully – had a work ethic that didn’t match his talent.
I personally don’t know the guy and I’ve never watched a United training session, so it would be remiss of me to back either school of thought, but the facts are that Muirhead didn’t do anything on the park to justify his hefty transfer fee, was sent out on loan by the manager who signed him, barely played for Partick Thistle while he was there and never even got a sniff of first team action under Mixu when he returned.
Something was not right with that transfer, and I don’t think I’d be a million miles off base if I was to say he was a panic purchase bought without any thought, purely to placate an angry fanbase at the end of the transfer window.
If I was being really cynical, I would also suggest that the transfer was also made with an eye on what we could sell him for in the future rather than what he would bring in the short or medium term.
But the thing is, his transfer was not the only one Dundee United bungled. What about the likes of Rodney Sneijder, Darko Bodul, Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Mihael Szromnik, Charlie Telfer, Eiji Kawashima or almost anyone else you’d care to mention.
The recruitment at Tannadice from the start of 2015 has been atrocious, and though the problems at Dundee United are manifold, there’s no doubt in my mind that the recruitment is the biggest.
If you don’t have the right players, you won’t win matches.
Proper recruitment isn’t just about whether or not a player is talented; it’s about how he fits in with the squad both in terms of what he brings on the park and off it.
It’s about building the proverbial well-oiled machine. It’s about building a team.
Dundee United’s feckless band of losers deserve to be where they are, and everyone from Chairman downwards needs to accept responsibility for that.
If I was running Dundee United, I’d use today’s departure of Robbie Muirhead as a line in the sand. From here on in – whether it’s the Premiership or the Championship – recruitment must improve.
A club like United cannot afford to make mistakes like that ever again.