Last Saturday’s first half performance by Dundee United was the finest by the Tangerines in a long while.
Organisation, endeavour, wide play, and solid defence, were all in evidence. Tired legs of the new signings showed in the second half, but there was plenty of cause for optimism.
I see no reason why United shouldn’t win today in the Scottish Cup at St Mirren. The Tannadice side look to have made quality signings and face a Buddies team languishing bottom of the Premiership.
A cup win would be a big financial boost and a psychological lift for Robbie Neilson’s team.
I’ll be very surprised if they don’t progress in this tie.
Midweek also showed that Jim McIntyre’s Dundee side are on the up. A 2-2 draw against a quality Kilmarnock side showed evidence of a new resolve and hardness at Dens.
The Dark Blues look physically sharper and stronger all round. McIntyre has re-jigged the Dens gymnasium set-up, and added players with a much better attitude than previously. Now the signs of the progress he made at Ross County are coming into clear view.
Dundee now look a much better bet to avoid relegation with a man who has all the experience required to lift them to safety.
If Zander Clark isn’t in Alex McLeish’s next Scotland squad Tommy Wright should march down to Hampden to chap the international team manager’s door for an explanation.
The St Johnstone keeper is developing into a top class performer between the sticks.
Agile, commanding, and confident, his form proves that he deserves a call up to the national squad.
With 11 clean sheets in 24 Premiership games this season, the 26-year-old Saints keeper has proven himself well worthy of inclusion.
Anything less would be a slap in the face to players at so called smaller clubs who, if they played at bigger outfits in such fine form, would be stick-on selections
It’s every man for himself these days in football.
This week we’ve had a verbal feud between Kilmarnock boss Steve Clarke and Rangers manager Steven Gerrard.
And we’ve had a nasty and career threatening challenge by Rangers goalie Allan McGregor, on the Dons player Lewis Ferguson.
Football has always been protectionist. Managers are aware that other managers are ultimately the enemy.
Players know similarly that it’s us or them when facing opponents.
Professional sport is a hard, uncompromising business. Fans ask and give no quarter, and expect the same from those who represent their colours.
The fine line though, between the chimera of respect and outright hostility, appears to be getting more blurred.
Although football might be war by another name, it seemed that previously there was an unspoken bond between players and managers as to acceptable behaviour.
In an era of increased financial pressure, and immediate demands for success though, everyone in football seems to be more aggressive in tone and behaviour than before.
Maybe that’s just football reflecting life, but the notion of sporting behaviour looks to be not so much dying a slow lingering death, as being given a lethal injection.