Ryan Edwards insists the mood at Dundee United is anything but ‘doom and gloom’ as the Tangerines attempt to bring European football back to Tannadice.
Tam Courts’ charges slipped to a 3-2 defeat against Hearts on Sunday, wasting a wonderful opportunity to open up a four-point gap to Motherwell and Ross County in the race for fourth.
It was another maddening afternoon for a United side which has now thrown away 16 points from winning positions in their last eight Premiership fixtures.
And the frustration of club captain Edwards was palpable as he reflected on the showdown.
Nevertheless, he is determined to retain a sense of perspective — safe in the knowledge that United’s fate remains in their own hands, starting with the visit of the Steelmen on Saturday.
“The aim is still clear and simple: we want to be playing European football,” Dundee United skipper Ryan Edwards told Courier Sport.
“Do we want to be in the group stages of the Premier Sports Cup in the summer? Or do we want to be representing Dundee United in Europe?
“No disrespect to that competition, but every player and supporter knows the answer to that question — and that’s the desire and determination we’ll have in the final games of the season.
“It’s not all doom and gloom. Top six was the club’s first target and we’ve achieved that.
“Now, we realise what a big opportunity we have in the final four games of the season. We still have a great chance to finish fourth, despite how frustrating Sunday was.
“We’ve got a good dressing room — it’ s an honest bunch of boys who will speak up if there’s something to be said — and we’ll regroup for the Motherwell match.”
The fact both Motherwell and Ross County failed to gain ground on United at the weekend is a faint silver lining, but provided little solace for Edwards.
If anything, it was an additional source of annoyance as yet another opportunity for Courts’ men to take a stranglehold on fourth place was passed up.
“It’s still in our hands — but we’ve said that too often,” noted Edwards bluntly. “We’ve then missed out on chances to put distance between ourselves and the teams around us.
“Sunday was our chance to open up a four-point gap over the teams behind us, yet the goals we conceded weren’t like us at all. They were so easy.
“We just gifted Hearts three goals that you shouldn’t really even see in professional football.”
‘I should be doing better’
Another byproduct of United’s collapse against the Jambos was truly splendid goals by Dylan Levitt and Edwards becoming mere footnotes.
Levitt’s was a silken, jinking solo run and cool finish, while Edwards thundered home a ferocious drive from distance to bring the score back to 2-2.
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) April 25, 2022
It was the second time Edwards has netted a wonder-goal in a losing effort against Hearts this term — and he is determined to find the net with more regularity, and with more satisfactory outcomes.
“My last goal was at Hearts away [5-2 defeat, November 6] and that’s far too long,” Edwards added. “I usually get my fair share over a season and I’ve only got four this time.
“I feel like I should have three or four more, given my size and ability in the air.
“I’m happy to shoulder that responsibility and say I should be doing better.”