Liam Fox has lamented a lack of “bravery and personality” from Dundee United after they limped out of the Scottish Cup against Kilmarnock.
The Tangerines produced an uninspiring performance at Tannadice, with a Kyle Vassell header securing Killie’s progression to the quarter-final.
United struck the cross-bar through Liam Smith and Aziz Behich, so it would be incorrect to suggest they did not threaten, but much of their showing was one-paced and insipid. The first period was particularly poor.
And Fox pulled no punches in the aftermath, noting that far more courage will be required during the upcoming battle against relegation.
“I thought the first half was very nervy and scrappy,” said Fox. “I needed to see more personality and bravery.
“When Killie scored, we wobbled a bit, which is not something we have seen for a while. That’s disappointing.
“There was a real nervousness about the group and it affected us. We need to be braver than that because we have some huge games — really important games — coming up.
Ayina sees red
Loick Ayina was dismissed for two bookable offences, fouling Brad Lyons and Vassell either side of half-time.
We can roll over or we can get back up and get going again.
While a nightmare end to his debut, the on-loan Huddersfield man actually impressed and — up until that moment — had a case to be considered United’s star man.
“I thought the kid (Ayina) did great, he’s a young kid and he’s going to make mistakes,” added Fox. “He had two fouls in the game and both of them were bookings.
“I thought the first one was harsh but he will learn from it, when you’re on a yellow card you have to make better decisions.”
Blocking out “the noise”
Fox is acutely aware that the defeat will only crank up the “noise” in the aftermath of “Asghar Out” protests at recent away matches against Killie and Hearts, aimed at sporting director Tony Asghar.
However, he remains steadfast in his belief and principles.
“There’s always a lot of noise but we will get back on the training pitch,” added Fox.
“I still have belief in this group of players. We will shut out the noise. There is no self-pity from us — everyone is entitled to their opinion.
“Everyone is entitled to criticise, that’s the way it is. When you’re the manager of this club and you’re bottom of the table, you expect criticism.
“When you’re under pressure, you have to keep working hard and stick to the process. We can roll over or we can get back up and get going again.”