Jack Ross has lamented Dundee United’s failure to do the ‘fundamentals’ in another bruising away day against Hearts.
Seeking to bounce back from a chastening 7-0 defeat against AZ Alkmaar on Thursday evening, the Tangerines fell behind after 41 seconds at Tynecastle as ex-Terror Lawrence Shankland converted a Cammy Devlin cross.
In shades of the AFAS Stadion hammering, there was an alarming failure to track runners as the Scotland striker notched from six yards.
While United’s response was better than their collapse in the Netherlands, second half efforts from Barrie McKay, Jorge Grant and Josh Ginnelly sealed a 4-1 triumph for the hosts.
Steven Fletcher’s spot-kick, while opening his account for the Tannadice club, was scant consolation.
“Irrespective of what went previously, you have to start games better than that,” rued Ross.
“When one game begins, the other game is forgotten about — and you need to give yourself a platform to win football matches.
“We didn’t do that, by not doing the fundamentals of the game: matching runs, being physical and putting contact on people in the first 45 seconds.
“We were okay towards the end of the first half but no better than that. I don’t want to sugar-coat it because we should be better than ‘okay’. We were nowhere near the level we should be at, and need to be at.”
On whether two defeats totalling 11-1 in the space of four days could have lingering psychological damage, Ross continued: “That is immeasurable to a degree.
“There is nothing that can give you an accurate barometer of that, other than a player being entirely honest about it. You can say all the right things and feel the right way, but the answers are given out on the pitch.”
In their last three halves of football, United have conceded a goal within three minutes of kick-off — Dani de Wit to begin the second period in Alkmaar; Shankland within a minute at Tynecastle; McKay after three minutes of the restart in Gorgie.
The Tangerines are giving themselves a mountain to climb with alarming regularity.
Asked whether that is a concerning statistic, Ross replied: “Any pattern in concession of goals is disturbing for you, whether it is set pieces, cross balls, or the timing of it.
“We are fairly thorough in what we do — we look for patterns and then how to solve the puzzle.
“So for us, that has not been good enough. We have conceded really early in three halves. We have to look at what we do from a staff point of view and try and rectify that.”
Ross, meanwhile, faces a nervous wait to learn the extent of a knee injury sustained by Dylan Levitt against AZ Alkmaar.
The Wales international was sorely missed against the Jambos.
And Ross added: “Dylan picked up a knee injury against AZ. We will know more this week — but hopefully it’s not too bad.”