Will Dundee United’s Dutch debacle derail their season?
I said last week they were a club going places – and they have.
They’ve gone straight into the record books for their worst ever European performance, and equal worst in Scottish history.
It’s not just the humiliation in front of a live TV audience that will bite, it’s also kissing the potential of lucrative group stage money goodbye.
On paper, United seem to have signed very good players and that doesn’t come cheap.
After the ignominy of the AZ Alkmaar annihilation, those players urgently need to prove some correlation between their reputations and the reality witnessed by stunned supporters who shelled out to follow them.
After surrendering 6 goals in 26 minutes in a 7-0 mauling, their standing has subsided significantly.
They now need remarkable resolve to restore some goodwill, starting at Tynecastle.
Defensively, United were a shambles and, although they had goal chances, they lacked the clinical competence to take them, which at European level proves deadly.
United were playing for themselves and their fans but they were also representing Scotland – and they embarrassed not only the club’s longstanding repute in Europe but also that of the nation.
There’s a major confidence rebuilding job ahead for Jack Ross at Tannadice.
The severity of the mauling could throw United’s season out of kilter and the character of the squad and management will now come under forensic fan scrutiny.
Defeat at Hearts would leave United with one point from the available opening nine.
Fans will accept defeat and, while in Holland many Arabs probably thought United would lose, what they didn’t expect – and will take time to forgive – was their side’s abject capitulation.
Pat Liney’s death is a sad reminder of much better times in Scottish football.
Pat was goalie when the Dees won their only ever top league title in their golden season of 1961/62.
That team was described by the late BBC broadcaster Bob Crampsey as the finest classical Scottish side he’d ever seen.
We know with the long period of top title dominance by Celtic and Rangers that wining the league is a supreme achievement for any side outside of the Glasgow duo.
Pat will live long in the memory of those who witnessed his contribution to the greatest period in the Dark Blues’ history.