Dundee United’s players have admitted they played starring roles in the club’s horror show at Falkirk.
The Tangerines’ squad were made to sit and watch footage of last Saturday’s 3-0 league hammering from the Bairns as part of the build-up to tomorrow’s Irn Bru Cup semi-final against Queen of the South at Palmerston.
Manager Ray McKinnon, who labelled that performance the worst in his time in charge, was glad to report that no one shirked responsibility for the scary movie.
He said: “We had a meeting and we watched the game back.
“That’s what we did and it was X-rated.
“We went through it piece by piece just to make sure they weren’t thinking differently from what I thought on Saturday.
“To be fair to them, they have taken responsibility. They had to because there wasn’t anybody who got pass marks.
“Right over the park, they were lethargic.
“It was a strange one and the goals we lost were so avoidable.
“We worked so hard at it and they still allowed it to happen so that was a concern that absolutely had to be addressed.
“You need to watch games back.
“I think being a player you can go home after a game and think ‘I wasn’t as bad as that.’ Then you see the game back and there is no hiding place so people have to take responsibility.
“I had to be critical. It wasn’t just my frustrations – we were dealing in facts.
“To work on certain aspects and then not do it is down to two things: either you are not able to do it or not wanting to do it.
“You only get a couple of chances at that and then you’ll be off because you can’t keep making those mistakes.”
United will have to improve their away form if they are to beat the Doonhamers and reach the final.
They have only won four times out of 13 in the league on the road, while they have also been ousted from the Betfred and Scottish Cups away from home to Morton and Ross County respectively.
Encouragingly, one of their best away results was the 4-1 win in the Championship against Queen of the South in early November.
McKinnon added: “I think the five defeats we have had this season in the league have been away from home – two at Falkirk, two at Dumbarton and the one at Hibs.
“To be fair, out of the five I would say three of them were avoidable – the two at Dumbarton and the one at Falkirk when we lost goals in the last two minutes.
“I think it has not been that bad but the five defeats being away from home is a concern.
“It was a good win down at Dumfries and we played well.
“Listen, it’s not easy at the moment.
“It’s tough and the boys are finding it a wee bit tough as well. We just need to stick together and really focus between now and the end of the season.”
The United boss has told his players that there is still plenty at stake for them going into the last few months of the season.
McKinnon said: “There is a lot to play for. We still have the league to play for and we have a cup semi-final.
“We still have an opportunity to get promotion, whatever way it is. Also, they are playing for contracts, most of them.
“We need to be mindful that as a squad they have done well.
“They hit the top of the league and that maybe killed us a wee bit, with expectation levels going through the roof.
“We just need to try and get them refocused until the end of the season.”
United will definitely be without injured duo Lewis Toshney and Blair Spittal against Queens.
The former has pulled his hamstring and the latter has suffered ankle ligament damage, not the previously feared broken foot.
Toshney is expected to miss a month, while Spittal could be sidelined for six to eight weeks.
Also, goalkeeper Cammy Bell is a doubt, while Coll Donaldson is over in Poland trying to complete his move to Bruk-Bet Termalica Nieciecza.
McKinnon added: “Cammy has a chance but the other two are definitely out.
“Coll is in Poland and he is a young lad who needs to play.
“We are hearing he has done all right and they want to have a look at him for the whole week.”
Meanwhile, United will not be pursuing their interest in winger Ivanildo Cassama.
The 31-year-old from Guinea-Bissau, who had been in Portugal with Academica, played in a development game against Rangers but has been told he won’t be offered a deal.
McKinnon said: “We are happy to have a look at anybody but he is heading back as he is just not for us.”
Someone with a good chance of being offered terms, though, is former Rangers and Hearts man David Templeton.
The United boss said: “We are going to get him as fit as we can and he might just be that wee secret weapon come the last four or five games. That’s what we’re thinking.”