Dundee United boss Robbie Neilson has marked the anniversary of Mark Ogren’s takeover by stressing that the promotion job is only half done.
As Neilson yesterday looked ahead to the home game with Ayr United, it was exactly 12 months since American businessman Ogren held a media conference at Tannadice to formally confirm his role as United’s new chairman and owner.
A year and a day ago, as he waved the club scarf and posed for pictures, Ogren declared that: “Our short-term goal is to get promoted to the Premiership. We’re very close to getting that done.”
Neilson and the players have been as good as Ogren’s word so far, opening up a yawning 13-point gap at the top of the Championship.
The midway point of the title campaign comes when the 18th match out of 36 falls tomorrow when third-top Ayr visit.
It is looking remarkably positive for the Tangerines but their manager is keen to stress that the job is nowhere near finished.
Neilson said: “It’s important that we just focus on the next game.
“We don’t want to look back at what we have done or what we might have achieved.
“It doesn’t really matter.
“If we keep just focusing on what we have to do then there is a chance we will get to where we want to be, come the end of the season.
“There is none of that (title talk) getting said in here, that’s for sure.
“Everyone knows there is still a long way to go.
“We are only halfway through the season so the job is only half done.
“There is a lot of work to do.
“In the last three seasons, United have had a really good start to the season and then fallen away during the second half so we have to make sure we don’t do that.
“The players here work hard and look after themselves. At the moment, I couldn’t ask for any more from them but we are only at the halfway stage.”
The Tangerines are hoping to make it nine successive wins and maintain their 100% home record.
However, he is extremely respectful of the Honest Men and their manager Mark Kerr, a former United midfielder.
Neilson said: “They beat us down there earlier in the season.
“Obviously, there’s been a change of manager with Mark coming in.
“Their wide players are very good and they have good quality up front, as well as two good full-backs.
“They also play the game at 100 miles per hour so I would anticipate them coming to Tannadice and having a go.
“That is just the way they are. They have been like that for the last three or four years so I would be surprised if they came and sat in.
“They just tend to take the game to you so it will be tough.
“They have won here at Tannadice in the recent past. In fact, they gave us a bit of a turning-over.”
Neilson is referring, of course, to the Friday fright night horror show when a certain Lawrence Shankland scored four times in a 5-0 win for Ayr at Tannadice last season.
The United manager would obviously like to see Shankland get among the goals but in a different shirt tomorrow and he is also hoping for a slicker performance than the “win ugly” displays at both Cappielow and Gayfield.
Neilson added: “The last two away games have been amid difficult conditions at both Arbroath and Morton but, hopefully, coming back to Tannadice with a good surface and a decent crowd behind us means we can try to win the game a little bit more convincingly than the last two.”
Meanwhile, Neilson revealed that midfielder Peter Pawlett will miss the Ayr match but should be available for the Dundee game in a week’s time.
He said: “Peter has been back running.
“I don’t think he will make the Ayr game but hopefully he will make the derby next Friday.
“That is a big boost. He came back for a bounce game and then rolled his ankle, which was disappointing, but we hope to have him back soon.”