In this week’s Talking Football, Courier football writers Ian Roache and Neil Robertson tackle Dundee’s positive performance against Aberdeen, look ahead to Dundee United’s trip to Dunfermline and ponder whether or not the “big black cloud” has lifted at St Johnstone.
Q: Dundee have every right to feel pleased with themselves after that Aberdeen match. Agree?
IR: They definitely do and eventual defeat at the hands of the Dons should not dampen the enthusiasm at Dens. There is general agreement that the Dark Blues were the better team and that is no mean feat when you consider James McPake’s management is still in its infancy and the Pittodrie budget is the biggest in the country outwith the Old Firm.
NR: Despite the defeat, there were positives aplenty for McPake. The important thing now is that, having set a high benchmark, his new-look team perform to that level – and win – on a consistent basis.
Q: Do you think it will have a knock-on effect in the league when they host Inverness Caley Thistle?
IR: The confidence was sky-high after Sunday and it will remain for the ICT match, which I expect them to win. The league is the most important competition by a mile for Dundee and if the cup display even slightly boosts their chance of three points this Saturday then that will be a huge Betfred bonus.
NR: There has been a much-needed return of the feelgood factor since McPake took over at Dens and, having fully bedded in most of his new signings, I can see them kicking on now. With Kane Hemmings to return from injury this weekend and exciting new Rangers loan signing Josh McPake set to play his part, the Dundee fans have every right to be confident of beating Inverness for the second time this season.
Q: Danny Johnson can fairly take a penalty. He looks super-confident standing at that spot does he not?
IR: That thought passed through my head twice at Dunfermline and again at the weekend. He just doesn’t look like missing. Paul Pogba must be jealous.
NR: There is certainly no messing about with fancy Panenka penalties with Johnson, that’s for sure, although I still believe he should have had another to take on Sunday after Funso Ojo’s handball.
Q: Finn Robertson was a star turn once again. Should we all just pause and remember his age?
IR: For as long as I can remember (maybe too long) managers have been warning that with young players you get inconsistency. It is almost a given that they will have an off day. I hope that doesn’t happen to young Finn but it probably will. The good thing is that he has, in James McPake, a manager who will look after him.
NR: I constantly have to remind myself when watching young Robertson (no relation, by the way) that he is still only 16. He is mature beyond his years and, certainly on the early evidence of his senior career, the real deal. McPake has already said that the kid is not ready to play a full 36-game season but at the moment it is impossible to leave him out of the starting line-up.
Q: Dundee United had the weekend off. Is that a good or bad thing?
IR: Good in the sense that it gave players like Peter Pawlett and Osman Sow more recovery time but bad in that the Tangerines were raring to go again as soon as they stepped off the Firhill pitch.
NR: I think at this early stage of the season, players just want regular games so the break would not have been welcome.
Q: Next up for the Tangerines is a trip to Dunfermline, who raised as many eyebrows as Dundee at the weekend when they took Celtic to extra-time in the cup. That looks a cracker, does it not?
IR: United boss Robbie Neilson was at Celtic Park to see the Pars run the Hoops close so is well warned. There will be two confident, in-form teams at East End Park but I just expect the visitors to shade it and maintain their perfect start in the league.
NR: I have to admit that I felt the Pars would be lucky to escape a hiding at Celtic Park after Neil Lennon side’s shock defeat to CFR Cluj. However, manager Stevie Crawford and his team did Dunfermline and the Championship proud. I can see them running United close and I would not be surprised if the game ended all square.
Q: St Johnstone manager Tommy Wright has spoken about a “big black cloud” that was hanging over the club. Will the sun shine on Leith for them when they play Hibs?
IR: He was referring to how the second-half performance at home to Livingston may have helped Saints turn a corner after a poor start to the season. It is never easy going to Easter Road, though, and they might be happy with a point from that one.
NR: The Livi fightback was certainly much-needed but Saints have to build on that at Easter Road.