Dundee United’s players have been ordered to listen to their manager rather than anxious supporters.
Boss Csaba Laszlo believes too many of his men were rushed into playing long balls and wasteful crosses because of pressure from the sidelines at Glebe Park on Saturday.
The result was that United stopped playing the passing game that had worked so well against Falkirk at Tannadice the previous weekend and they ended up only drawing 1-1 with bottom club City.
That result left them vulnerable to attack from promotion rivals St Mirren and the Buddies subsequently knocked them off the top of the Championship table thanks to their home success over Livingston on Tuesday night.
The Tangerines’ target when they return to Tannadice on Saturday to face Dunfermline is to rediscover the flowing football that they produced for all of the match against the Bairns but only half of the game against Brechin.
Laszlo believes that, for that to happen, the players need to pay more attention to what he tells them than what they hear from fans, as well-meaning as some of that advice may be.
“The expectation is very high,” said Laszlo.
“The fans have expectation because for two seasons the team has been out of the Premiership and they want the team to win every game.
“The spectators were very close to the players on Saturday and they heard everything.
“The players were thinking: ‘Oh my God, I have to get that right.’
“They were getting told to get the ball forward.
“There are times when that can be a positive thing but it can be the opposite too.
“I talked to the players and told them that they are professional footballers and should not be noticing what people are talking about.
“What the people want after 90 minutes is a victory but I am the coach and I have the plan.
“Fans are entitled to have opinions and views, and I like them supporting us, but you have to do your job.
“We have to handle the situation and if we do it in the correct way then everyone will be winners – the fans, the team and the club.”
While United’s confidence might have taken a dent because of the double-whammy of not winning at Brechin and then seeing themselves overtaken at the top by St Mirren, their opponents haven’t exactly been setting the heather on fire themselves.
Dunfermline have not won in the league since October 21 – a 3-1 victory over Livingston – and Laszlo will aim to make the most of any negativity in the Pars’ camp.
“Every game is different and Dunfermline are dangerous opponents,” said Laszlo.
“I think they are struggling a little bit at the moment and want to come out from this dip.
“I watched the games against Morton and Dumbarton – both draws at home – and they have strength but also weakness.
“We have to use the weakness against them in our own stadium.
“This is a very important game for us because we want to grow in confidence.”
Meanwhile, Sunderland have reportedly joined the race to sign United left-back Jamie Robson.
Robson was interesting Southampton in the summer but saw his move to the English Premier League scuppered on deadline day.
Now the Black Cats are meant to have joined Saints and Derby County in keeping tabs on the 19-year-old.