Dundee United boss Micky Mellon has challenged his players to set the standard as they head for Premiership basement boys Hamilton tomorrow.
Accies are fighting for their life at the foot of the table as the post-split season kicks off at New Douglas Park tomorrow afternoon.
United are relatively safe in eighth spot, with ambitions of snatching seventh and the best of the rest crown from St Mirren.
Despite not having the pressure of relegation hanging over them, Tangerines gaffer Mellon has asked his troops to meet the demands of the club and put on a show.
‘It’s Dundee United and it’s another game. We are a team trying to be better all the time’
“We have to be better than that and overcome,” he said when asked if they have to match Hamilton.
“Why can’t we be the ones who go down and drive the tempo and set the standards?
“We are fully aware of the importance of the game.
“It’s Dundee United and it’s another game. We are a team trying to be better all the time.
“This is another opportunity to do that and that’s what I keep saying to everybody – we have set a standard now that if we go below we don’t accept it.
“That’s the demands of the club.”
It’s the Terrors third trip to Accies’ patch this season with the way split fixtures have worked out.
They’ll also play Kilmarnock for the third time at Rugby Park later in the month.
Although he’d rather have more home games, the schedule is something Mellon insists United just have to accept.
He added: “We have to go to Kilmarnock three times as well. It’s not done on purpose.
“Unfortunately, we have been the ones who have to go somewhere three times twice.
“You would like it to be that we get our fair share of home games but it’s probably just the way it’s landed.
“Every year someone is going to be a bit aggrieved. We all know the rules at the start of the season and you just have to get on with it.”
Mellon defends Scottish refs after Accies boss Rice blasts officials
Mellon’s opposite number tomorrow, Brian Rice, had a pop at referees after Hamilton’s 3-0 Scottish Cup third-round loss to the Buddies last Saturday.
Rice said Accies don’t get “a fair crack of the whip” from officials as they are a smaller club and felt aggrieved as he perceived decisions were going against his side.
Mellon has sympathy with the Lanarkshire boss, saying there are plenty of calls he, too, could rightly feel irked by.
However, the former Tranmere manager also defended the standard of refereeing in Scotland.
Having spent practically all of his playing and coaching days down south until checking in at Tannadice, Mellon is in a unique position to comment on Scottish whistlers.
For his money, they are up there with the best, labelling them “very strong”.
He added: “We would all be able to point to times in the season when we believe we never got decisions we thought we should have got.
“All managers can say that.
“We can all say we should have got penalties here and there and shouldn’t have been given against us but there’s not an awful lot you can do about it now.
“You just have to get on with it and, yeah, you can be disappointed, upset and hope the next time they get the decisions right.
“We certainly have been on the wrong end of quite a few. We’ve not had a lot of penalties this season.
“It’s for someone else to judge but I’ve always been the type of guy that believes that referees are being fair and honest and their integrity is sound.”
Asked if he felt Rice was being cute with his comments, Mellon continued: “We will see won’t we? It maybe puts everybody under a bit of undue pressure. Maybe the spotlight comes on it a bit more.
“You’d need to ask Brian why he said what he did.
“I do things my own style and I’m sure the integrity of the refs in Scotland is 100% and they will keep giving decisions as they see fit regardless of what we say as managers.
“They are very strong up here.”
Edwards ‘a lot of guy’ says boss after punch claim
In another fiery Scottish Cup post-match interview, Partick Thistle boss Ian McCall accused United defender Ryan Edwards of punching Jags striker Brian Graham in the Terrors 2-1 win at Tannadice last weekend.
Mellon was left unmoved by the claims as he defended the big centre-half.
“I’m not aware of a massive onslaught against him,” Mellon said.
“I think when people are competitive and are 6ft 4, that’s a lot of guy isn’t it?
“It’s a committed fella and the way that he plays you’re going to know he’s about.
“That’s something Ryan has probably always had to deal with or whoever is playing against him has had to deal with!
“He takes as much as he gives all the time.
“I’ve no problem with him. I want us to be competitive and win games of football – Ryan’s helped us do that.”
United have no new injury issues for the trip west with Dillon Powers (concussion) and Declan Glass (knee) long-term absentees.