In football, as in life, talk is cheap.
As each new league season looms it’s always alive with possibilities.
Promising potential can quickly become dismal dubiety, though.
All the early pronouncements about togetherness and morale in a squad often dissolve within the first few games under the brutal scrutiny of better quality opponents.
Shortcomings are exposed mercilessly under the glare of serious competition.
Both clubs have fared well in their group openers but it’s only once they get half a dozen or more games in against the Premiership sides that weaknesses and strengths are fully revealed.
The cup is certainly no distraction – the part-time opposition each has met have provided robust competition, and the final stages can yield a welcome financial boost.
But the top league is where supporters expectations will or won’t be met.
It’s there that the quality, depth, and character of the squads will be revealed as excellent, adequate, or lacking.
It’s on league business where fans usually find that the triumph of hope over experience has once again come to pass.
— Dundee Football Club (@DundeeFC) July 22, 2021
The aspirations of both Dundee clubs should be to emulate near neighbours St Johnstone.
Both are bigger clubs than the Perth side support-wise but each have a distance to travel before they can match the recent achievements of the McDiarmid park outfit.
Regular top-half finishes and aiming at European football should not be beyond the Dark Blues or Tangerines.
Fans pay good cash to follow their teams and they appreciate reality and honesty in ambitions outlined by owners but they’re also entitled to dream and hope.
Supporting a football club combines a complicated mix of reasons from family, community, and a sense of tribe.
It also has to be about stargazing and shooting for the moon.
If it’s only about survival and hanging in and avoiding relegation, supporters would be as well following a local amateur or junior team.
There has to be an element of showbiz and pizazz and a sense of theatre – a sort of heady concoction of X Factor, Britain’s got talent, and Strictly.
Just as the various Caesars gave the Romans bread and circuses, United and Dundee need to make Tannadice and Dens amphitheatres of drama, excitement, and emotion.
Turgid dross won’t do
Professional football is ultimately about winning but it also should raise our eyes to the heavens and relieve the monotony of our working week.
We go to watch football players do things on the pitch that we’d have loved to have been able to do ourselves but can’t.
We look to our football teams to compete and win but we should also look for them to lift our spirits.
Turgid dross isn’t the fare we’re after.
We want to be emotionally thrilled.
Thousands of folk live their everyday lives intertwined with the fortunes of both city clubs.
They’re the talk of the workplace, the tea break, the bus stop, the pub and supermarket.
This season let’s hope both clubs can walk the walk as well as talk the talk, to light up our season.