Dundee United’s players have been given a clear message by manager Micky Mellon as they try to stay on the right side of the pandemic rules: “Just ask!”
If any Tannadice player is unsure about any decision or action that they want to take away from the pitch they have been ordered to seek immediate advice from the club.
Mellon has been extremely happy with the conduct of his players during the coronavirus crisis and wants that to continue.
He and captain Mark Reynolds were involved in the Premiership-wide governmental talks that took place in the wake of the Aberdeen eight’s bar visit and the Spanish trip taken by Celtic’s Boli Bolingoli.
Everyone in Scottish football is aware that the season is hanging by a thread and Mellon’s men have been urged to raise any doubts they have rather than soldier on thinking everything will be fine.
The United gaffer said: “I think it is a really difficult time. It is a virus that we are dealing with for the first time.
“There are a lot of grey areas in things players can and cannot do.
“I certainly don’t remember a time apart from Monday when we sat down with the health minister and things were put to us a wee bit clearer. That is the first time that I have sat down as a manager since the start of this virus.
“So a lot of areas are grey to me as well and people will make mistakes.
“Unfortunately some people are (doing that) but I say to my players: ‘If in doubt ask!’
“Don’t go doing anything that you think might be in a wee bit of a dodgy area.
“Ask the question and if we don’t know then we will go and try to find the answers for you. But common sense must prevail.
“If you don’t want sunburn, you don’t go out in the sun too much,” added Mellon.
“Therefore, just be a wee bit careful and use common sense and if in doubt ask the question.
“We don’t want people punished unless it is a blatant breach of what we already know is wrong.
“Like I said, it is difficult because we are doing this for the first time and we are going to make mistakes but let’s just try to get football played because that’s what we all want.”
On the pitch, Mellon seems pretty satisfied with how his team have performed on their top-flight return, albeit he is disappointed they lost 1-0 at home to Hibs on Tuesday night.
Over the three matches, they have not looked out of place and could have beaten rather than drawn with St Johnstone, while they were worthy winners at Motherwell.
Next is up is a trip up to Ross County on Saturday to face a side that, just like the Hibees, have started the campaign really well.
Mellon mused: “Are we getting closer to being competitive against the teams playing at the level we want to be successful at? My opinion is very much so.
“We have areas we want to improve on, we didn’t have the cutting edge against Hibs and know we have to get better.
“When we get into dangerous areas we need to be cleaner and tidier, but we are doing an awful lot very well.
“The work-rate is exceptional – it’s fabulous – and I believe we have what we need to make the improvements needed.
“If we can win on Saturday it would be a good start. We would have to be pleased with it.
“Performance-wise, I’m always honest with my team because that’s where you have to work from to make them better.
“If we go to Ross County with the same work-rate and show a bit more quality in the final third, we will cause them a lot of problems.
“The league is much as I expected – very tight.
“You obviously have Celtic and Rangers but the rest of the games look very competitive and can swing at any moment on a little bit of detail.
“I am enjoying coming up against different teams, different challenges. You encounter a few different styles and even surfaces, so it has been very enjoyable.”
Mellon kept his cards close to his chest when asked about injuries, with Lawrence Shankland, Liam Smith, Jamie Robson, Ryan Edwards and Paul McMullan all on the casualty list.
He did, though, definitely rule Robson out of the trip to Dingwall and that’s no surprise after the terrible head knock the player suffered in midweek.
Mellon said: “If the game was today we’d have a number who would struggle but we have another couple of days so we’ll give them the maximum amount of time possible.
“Jamie Robson is definitely out, although he is feeling much better and was back into the training ground today.
“Paul McMullan is also still recovering from his operation but he’s making progress and is on target to be back for the Celtic game.”