Jamie McGrath is adamant Dundee United’s historic capitulation against Celtic is a “distant memory” as the Hoops prepare to return to Tannadice for the first time since hammering the Tangerines 9-0.
Ange Postecoglou’s side ran riot in Tayside last August, with Kyogo and Liel Abada grabbing hat-tricks apiece, adding to goals from Josip Juranovic, Jota and Carl Starfelt.
It represented United’s biggest-ever home defeat and was the nadir to a tumultuous campaign, to date.
The result cost head coach Jack Ross his job, with the former Hibs and Sunderland boss sacked after 10 weeks — and a run of conceding 23 goals in four matches.
“Of course, it is never ideal losing to the scoreline we did,” said McGrath, who played the final 30 minutes as a substitute.
“As a player, it was tough. But since then, we are in a better place.
“We are working tirelessly to be a better team and are starting to show that every week. A few more things need to click and we will be a right good team.
“You don’t forget games like that (Celtic) — but it is a distant memory now.”
Rather than reflect on that infamous afternoon last year, McGrath would rather focus on United’s performance on their last visit to Celtic Park.
The Tangerines were level at 2-2 going into the 90th minute following a fine showing in Glasgow, only for Kyogo and Abada to break Tangerine hearts in the dying embers.
“They are clicking into gear and it will be a tough game on Sunday,” continued McGrath.
“Celtic play on the front foot and are very aggressive.
They do leave holes at the back and I thought we were very unlucky not to take something out of the last game at Celtic Park. We can take positives from that performance.”
“The last time they came to Tannadice, it was a different story, of course, but we are in a better place now.”
What does the future hold?
McGrath, meanwhile, continued his own fine campaign with a spectacular bicycle kick in United’s 3-0 Scottish Cup win over University of Stirling on Saturday.
The attacking midfielder now boasts three goals and three from 21 outings this term and will see out the season on loan from Wigan Athletic.
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) January 22, 2023
McGrath’s deal with the Latics runs until 2024 and, given they are now under the management of Kolo Touré, he is uncertain regarding what the future holds.
“There has been a managerial change but I just want to give my all (to United) and see where it takes us in the cup and league,” he continued.
“I haven’t even thought about next season yet.
I have a year left after this one but I don’t know what will happen.”
“I’ll just focus on United and staying in the Republic of Ireland squad, where we have a big game against France in March.”
Indeed, McGrath’s form with United was enough to earn McGrath an international recall in November.
And he grasped that opportunity, being named man of the match in a 1-0 win over Malta.
“It had been a year since I had been in the Ireland squad,” recalled McGrath. “It was great to get back in and for the gaffer to give me 90 minutes.
“To get the man of the match was the icing on the cake. I am still looking for my first international goal so that is my next target, if I am in the next squad. To get it against France wouldn’t be bad!”