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LEE WILKIE: Dundee must stop shooting themselves in the foot in potentially season-defining Ayr clash while recent form means United can shrug off Gers defeat

Queen of the South's Rhys Breen celebrates making it 2-0 at Dens Park.
Queen of the South's Rhys Breen celebrates making it 2-0 at Dens Park.

Dundee just keep shooting themselves in the foot.

After getting over their early-season troubles and into the play-off places, I expected them to kick on and show their quality.

But it’s just not happened.

After the 3-2 defeat to Queen of the South, they are back outside of the top four and I am slightly worried for them.

Defending simple situations seems to be really difficult right now and it’s killing them.

Just look at the opening goal against the Doonhamers, it was so poor.

All three goals in fact were all completely avoidable.

That’ll be hugely frustrating for manager James McPake.

It also will be for the players and it’s up to them to start sorting that out.

It may just be a case of getting back to basics, keeping things simple and going one-v-one so every player knows exactly what his job is.

I don’t think the break helped them.

If a team is struggling then a bit more time on the training pitch would be welcome.

However, Dundee were going along just fine after beating Hearts and then getting out of trouble against Bonnyrigg.

Queen of the South’s Rhys Breen celebrates making it 2-0 at Dens Park.

Then the Raith game with its injury problems was mixed in with all the call-offs.

It’s been a difficult time all round for the Dee.

Tonight’s game, though, is an opportunity to get right all the things that have been going wrong.

And it’s one they just have to take.

Ayr are only three points behind and have a better goal difference, so victory for the Honest Men sees them above Dundee.

Considering they currently occupy the relegation play-off spot, that’s a major concern.

It’s a huge game for them when you look at it like that.

It could even be a season-defining one for McPake and his men considering what is at stake.

Three points, though, and they are back in the play-off spots again and can target back-to-back wins when they go to Morton on Saturday.

With the quality in their team, that’s what we should be expecting from this Dundee team.

For me, they have the strongest squad outside Hearts in the division.

However, they need to start showing it sooner rather than later.

There are too many teams above them right now that really shouldn’t be, if you’re looking at the size of club.

Dundee need their experienced players to show their strength as well.

Charlie Adam has been a huge influence and needs to continue to show that.

Liam Fontaine, Paul McGowan, Jason Cummings, guys like that are vital when push comes to shove.

They are the boys who can sort this out for Dundee and get the club back on track.

I do believe they can do that but they need to cut out the slack defending and make it much more difficult for opponents to score against them.

Psychologically they don’t want to drop down even further, that’s when panic might set in.

4-1 scoreline a harsh one for Dundee United

Marc McNulty (left) celebrates his goal against Rangers with Dundee United team-mate Liam Smith.

Despite coming away from Ibrox on the end of a 4-1 scoreline on Sunday, Dundee United won’t be too disheartened.

I don’t think 4-1 really reflected the performance they put in, there will be lots Micky Mellon was happy with.

The Tangerines actually created the better chances before Rangers took the lead.

And the first two goals were unlucky deflections really.

Alfredo Morelos’ goal was just bad luck or bad decision-making from the goalkeeper.

However, Benjy Siegrist has been so good this season you can forgive him that.

Also, if he’s going to make an error like that, better to do it in a game at Ibrox when the score is 3-0 rather than at a key moment in the season.

The form they showed in the previous two games means they can shrug this result off and focus on Kilmarnock next week with confidence.

That’ll be a tough game with Tommy Wright getting used to things at Rugby Park now.

Repeat how they played against Ross County and Livingston and United will fancy their chances of another big victory.

Again at Ibrox they created chances and it was good to see Marc McNulty get on the scoresheet. Lawrence Shankland is on form and Louis Appere has been good.

I don’t expect a classic at Rugby Park but another victory and United are well clear of any trouble.

Liverpool too good to keep on struggling

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp consoles Andrew Robertson (centre) after the defeat to Everton.

I still can’t believe Liverpool are struggling so much.

I expected them by now to have sorted things out and begun to pick up the results we expect from them.

Another poor day against Everton this time at the weekend and to add to it, Jordan Henderson picked up an injury.

I still think they are too good a team to continue to struggle so badly and they will begin to show their character over the next few weeks.

There’s just too much quality in that team, injuries or not, to continue to lose games.

This article originally appeared on the Evening Telegraph website. For more information, read about our new combined website.