Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Where has it gone wrong with Dundee United’s defending?

Where has it gone wrong with Dundee United’s defending?

What has happened to Dundee United’s defence? Or, put more accurately, what’s gone awry with the Tangerines’ defending?

Because United, like most teams, prefer to stick to the “we defend as a team” mantra.

That’s in part down to strikers who work their backsides off to close down opposition defenders when they’re in possession.

And midfielders who track back diligently as well as an experienced back four and goalkeeper who know if they take all the credit when things are going well, have to take all the blame when they aren’t.

Mainly, though, it’s because manager Ray McKinnon insists on his players working as a team all over the pitch.

Under him, the sight of the main striker working across the other team’s back four to at least make sure they don’t have time to settle on the ball, and even creative talent like Tony Andreu and Scott Fraser getting back to help out in their own third of the field, has been commonplace.

It’s why until the last couple of weeks United have had a fine record when it comes to their goals-against column.

During the 14-game unbeaten run that stretched from late September to their going top of the Championship on Christmas Eve, just five were lost.

On top of that, not many more chances were surrendered during that time and, when they were, goalkeeper Cammy Bell was a match to deal with the majority of shots on target.

For what hasn’t been a high-scoring team this season, that was the vital ingredient in the success to that point.

In the four games without a win since, however, 13 goals have flown past Bell, though in fairness to him, his form has not dipped.

An alarming 12 of them have come in the last three games, culminating in the six they lost to crash out of the Scottish Cup on a miserable afternoon at Ross County on Saturday.

So how does such previously-good defending turn so bad in such a short space of time?

It’s a much easier question to ask than answer. If it wasn’t, the manager would have sorted things out at the back already.

Perhaps one quick explanation is that in the games against Hibs, Queen of the South and County, United were up against higher-quality attackers than in most games this season.

Championship leaders Hibs boast on-loan Celtic man and former Scotland star Kris Commons as well as Jason Cummings, whose double in the clash at Easter Road effectively won the game.

And, while Queens have been struggling in the league for a few months now, in star striker Stephen Dobbie they possess a player whose talent surely belongs at a higher level.

In the 3-3 draw at Tannadice the other week, the much-travelled veteran netted with one clever finish and set up another with a quality assist.

Meanwhile, at the Global Energy Stadium at the weekend, the physicality of old foe Liam Boyce and the pace of Alex Schalk were a step or two above the regular opposition of this season.

That, though, has only been part of the problem. Individual errors have also been a factor.

The opening goal at Easter Road saw two failed attempts to clear, the equaliser against Queens involved bad marking, as did, in particular, the opener against the Staggies.

People handed jobs have not done them at vital times and the whole squad will now have been reminded that, particularly against the better teams, switching off for even a split second can have catastrophic consequences.

Just as importantly, right now the players need to remember how well they can defend and get back to it.

Already a subscriber? Sign in



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