Sam Stanton helped Dundee United get out of the Championship starting blocks before admitting scrutiny comes with the territory when playing for a big club.
The Tangerines captain was on target at Palmerston on Saturday with his side doing just enough to edge past Queen of the South and pick up a first league victory.
New signing Pavol Safranko marked his debut with a goal and although Stephen Dobbie pulled one back for the Doonhamers, they couldn’t force a late equaliser.
Stanton revealed it was satisfying to bounce back from an opening-day defeat to Dunfermline Athletic and while he knows United will always find themselves in the spotlight, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The 24-year-old said: “It is good to get that first win. It was two different halves of football. We dominated the first half and played really well. I think our shape caught them out.
“The second half was almost a complete flip of that and they were much better than us but we managed to hang on and get the three points.
“You’re disappointed no matter what club you’re at when you lose a game. It’s very early in the season to be feeling down. We’ve been positive and worked really hard.”
When asked if he felt the extra scrutiny which United are subject to was unfair, former Hibernian midfielder Stanton replied: “No. It’s a big club.
“There is always going to be scrutiny at bigger clubs. That’s why you want to play for these clubs. There is pressure and an expectation to win games.”
Two goals in the opening 27 minutes put United in the ascendancy with Stanton opening the scoring when he did well to find the bottom corner of the net from just outside the area.
Csaba Laszlo’s men doubled their lead when Frederic Frans knocked a ball into the path of Safranko who produced a high-quality finish to beat Queens keeper Alan Martin.
For Stanton, the first impressions of Safranko were positive but he was also full of praise for midfielder Yannick Loemba as well as United’s other new recruits.
“I thought Pavol did a lot of very good work for us,” he said. “He held the ball up, was good in the air and obviously took his goal very well.
“I thought Yannick was very good as well. All the lads have been great since they came in although it’s going to take a bit of time for them to bed in.
“It’s always nice to get a goal and I’ve just managed to slide it in the corner.”
The Dumfries men had a bit more about them in the second half and could have reduced the deficit on the hour mark.
A Dobbie shot from distance was parried by United keeper Matej Rakovan who then blocked Gary Harkins’s rebound and a third effort in quick succession by Australian forward Lyndon Dykes.
However, Queens did give themselves hope seven minutes later with Dobbie arriving at the back post to convert from a Kyle Jacobs cross.
It was all hands on deck for United in a bid to keep their lead intact as the Doonhamers dominated possession but perhaps struggled to create clearcut opportunities.
In the end, referee Steven Kirkland’s final whistle came as much-needed relief for the Tangerines and Laszlo who is taking everything in his stride, according to Stanton.
“The gaffer’s great,” said Stanton. “He is under pressure at the moment it seems but you would never know. He is very good with all the lads and trains us very hard.”
United boss Laszlo said: “We deserved to win and I’m proud of the boys because they did a good job. It was a very good team performance.
“We had to perform and we had to win. I was really pleased with the first-half performance although a little angry that we did not close the game out.
“Everybody wants to beat you. It is not easy to win a game. It is about fighting, will and desire.”
Doonhamers manager Gary Naysmith said: “We were poor in the first half and Dundee United were the better team but then the real Queen of the South turned up in the second half.”