Not even the most optimistic Arab would’ve expected Dundee United to beat Rangers this afternoon in such record-shattering fashion.
Not only did United register their first win over the Gers in seven years, they ended the champions’ impressive 40-game Premiership unbeaten run in the process.
A goal from academy graduate Jamie Robson was the ideal gift for 4,500 returning fans as Tam Courts’ team bit and clawed their way to a 1-0 victory at Tannadice.
🎙️"Dundee United out of nowhere! A big question has been asked of Rangers!"
Here's a look at Jamie Robson's first goal since 2017 that has given @dundeeunitedfc the lead at Tannadice against Rangers. How will this one end up?
📺Watch the game live on Sky Sports Football now pic.twitter.com/jVkEntnf5f
— Sky Sports Scotland (@ScotlandSky) August 7, 2021
It was a richly-deserved three points for the battling Tangerines and, for most people’s money, surprise ones after their lethargic opening-day 2-0 defeat at Aberdeen.
Speaking to DUTV after the match, boss Tam Courts described it as “a perfect day”, but what, exactly, did we learn about United from the performance?
Terrors will fight for each other
Any rumours of bust-ups or spats in the United camp, as regularly circulated on social media since Courts’ appointment, couldn’t look further from the truth.
The togetherness among the men in tangerine was there for all to see.
From the body-on-the-line defensive performances of Charlie Mulgrew, Ryan Edwards and Calum Butcher to the endless energy and graft of Jeando Fuchs, the Terrors ran themselves into the ground.
Although workaholic and warrior-like, United also offered plenty of craft going forward, too.
Full-backs Liam Smith and Robson showed a real understanding with Peter Pawlett, Logan Chalmers, Adrian Sporle, Ian Harkes and Nicky Clark in front of them as United bombed forward with some joy.
While the Light Blues had control of the ball, the Tangerines kept the Glasgow giants’ chances to a minimum and, crucially, got the all-important goal.
Composed Courts tactically astute
It would’ve been easy for new gaffer Courts to crumble under the pressure that was immediately placed on him after last weekend’s defeat at Pittodrie.
Scrap that, intense and undue criticism he was subject to from day one of landing the top job at Tannadice.
He’s had it from all angles and, although it isn’t going to make him an instant hero among the support, beating Rangers will go some way to winning them over and silencing his critics.
A picture of composure while chaos was ensuing around him after the final whistle, the 39-year-old showed a steely determination he’ll need to make a success of his tenure.
Courts also displayed terrific tactical astuteness, in the face of star man Lawrence Shankland’s absence, to field a team that nullified Rangers’ threats and accentuated United’s own abilities.
Fans make all the difference
It’s often said that football without fans is nothing.
It’s worse than that – it’s so wrong it’s sickening.
The Arabs have been greatly missed. Although we have experienced a few hundred of them in the season-opening Premier Sports Cup action, today’s crowd was the first sizeable one Tannadice has hosted since last March.
Four-and-a-half thousand cheering, singing and screaming punters made themselves sound like 45,000 and definitely had an impact on the final result.
There were no failures for Dundee United, one through to 11, but their 12th man was, undoubtedly, the star of the show.