Meticulous planning from boss Robbie Neilson has helped turn Dundee United into a match-winning machine.
That is the view of Tangerines’ captain Mark Reynolds, who feels the ability to immediately switch focus following games is a major reason why the United head coach has just collected his third Ladbrokes manager of the month award.
Neilson has been praised for his steady approach to this season, not getting too upset on the rare occasion when his players have lost and not getting carried away by even the most impressive of victories.
He is particularly adept, according to Reynolds, at turning all his attention on the team to be faced next, in this case today’s opponents Partick Thistle.
The Tannadice central defender said: “The gaffer is very intense, there is nothing left to chance and everything is done at 100%.
“There is no easing off.
“His preparation for games is meticulous and the process before every game is the same regardless of the result the week before.
“For example, when we lost to Queen of the South 4-0 earlier in the season we came in on the Monday and he spoke the same way as he would have done had we won it.
“He pointed out what we should have done better and what we needed to improve on but it didn’t linger.
“Other managers, it would affect their behaviour on the Monday or Tuesday and it wouldn’t be until the end of the week that they would get over it.
“However, he is over it straight away and the focus on the Monday is the same – building towards the next game.
“His sessions are all focused on the Saturday, which is different from other clubs,” added Reynolds.
“At Aberdeen, for example, we focused mainly on ourselves but here we focus on our strengths but also on how the opposition play, their strengths, weaknesses and how we can exploit them.
“The whole week is about building that game plan.
“Under previous managers I have worked with, that happens later in the week but here on the Monday or Tuesday we are watching videos, making plans and looking at what we have to do.
“So it happens far earlier and I like that because we are getting the benefit from it.”
United go into this afternoon’s trip to Firhill on the back of a superb 1-0 victory away to Queen of the South last weekend.
It was their 16th win out of 20 league matches and they have not lost since that aforementioned hammering from the Doonhamers on October 19.
The word Reynolds chose to describe that form was a good one – “relentless.”
He added: “The focus has been on getting the club back up.
“It has been relentless and that comes from the manager.
“Every week is huge, every game is huge and we can’t sit back.
“There have been matches when we haven’t won pretty but it’s about getting the job done and putting the points on the board.
“That is why the Queens game was a satisfying one because we lost there the previous time. We put that right.
“We didn’t make excuses after the last one but there were a lot of factors behind it.
“We didn’t hide behind not being able to play our strongest team. We just took it and then tried to put it right this time.”
Reynolds was left out of Saturday’s starting line-up, with Neilson choosing to go with eventual winning goal scorer Mark Connolly alongside Paul Watson at the heart of the defence. The plastic pitch in Dumfries may have had something to do with that and the skipper is expected back for today’s game on the Glasgow grass.
He said: “I didn’t play because of the pitch, which is frustrating, but it will be good to get back to grass if I am selected.
“I think Mark was a victim of his own hard work earlier in the season because he pushed himself too hard and that affected his hamstring.
“He did too much, almost.
“Paul has come in and been brilliant so Mark has had to bide his time.
“There was no moping about from him, though. He has been part of it and been great.
“So everyone was delighted for him last weekend.
“The full dressing room is like that as you can’t have people who are not on board because it can really affect the team.”