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RAB DOUGLAS: I didn’t see Dundee United’s incredible start to the season coming and return of key men is huge boost to Dundee

Dundee United's scintillating start to the season has surprised a few.
Tam Courts hopes Dundee United can replicate their Ryan Edwards-inspired win at Hibernian

I tipped Dundee United to finish below Dundee in the table at the start of the season.

And right now, as I stare at the league table I fear I’m going to be slapped in the face with a big custard pie.

There is no way I would have predicted that United would be sitting third in the Scottish Premiership after nine games. I just didn’t see it coming.

I thought it would take time for Tam Courts to bed into his new role as head coach and time for the players to buy into his ideas.

United have been a surprise package

But fair play to him, he’s got off to a flying start and they have been a surprise package.

The win over Rangers that set them off on their terrific run was no fluke.

They put in a high-tempo performance that day and and deservedly beat Rangers. They have really kicked on since that afternoon.

Tam Courts has had an incredible start to the season.

The success has largely been built on their defence. Ryan Edwards and Charlie Mulgrew have been outstanding for them.

Charlie has come up here and shown, at 35, that he has such a great football brain that it doesn’t matter if he is in the latter years of his career.

He is strolling through games and it’s no surprise that United have the fifth best defensive record in the UK.

When I signed for John McCormack at Dundee he made it absolutely clear he was building his team around his defence.

And while United have shown they have some good attacking options, their defence is pretty solid.

Is it too much for Dundee to catch them?

Let’s just say that no prizes are handed out in October. We’re not even past the first quarter yet so, while it’s been a fantastic start by United, they won’t be opening any trophy cabinet yet.

Return of Adam and Griffiths massive

The first derby was also at Tannadice and Dundee will, rightly, get a massive boost from their win over Aberdeen.

Things seem so much better when you get three points and it was the other Charlie – Charlie Adam – who made the difference on Saturday night.

Charlie’s return to the team is so much more than just his ability on the park.

His presence, his will-to-win, his experience. They all make a massive difference to Dundee.

Charlie Adam's return was a massive boost for Dundee.
Charlie Adam’s return was a massive boost for Dundee.

But let’s not underplay his ability either. There are very few players in our game who can pass a ball the way Charlie Adam does and he has been a big miss for Dundee.

It was great to see Leigh Griffiths get in amongst the goals again too.

He has come to Dundee to play games and score goals.

If he does both then it will be mission accomplished and, hopefully, this goal can help him get off the mark.

Shaun Byrne has also been an important player for Dundee this year and it will be a big blow if he is out for quite a while.

Shaun Byrne is a massive loss for Dundee.
Shaun Byrne is a massive loss for Dundee.

He’s a great player who sets the tone in the middle of the park with his tackles and passing.

Dundee will miss him but they do have depth in midfield and can call upon the likes of Max Anderson to come back into the starting line-up.

Let’s see how Dundee kick on and if Dundee United continue to progress but it’s all smiles in the city right now.

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