Dundee United are making a steady recovery under manager Robbie Neilson, as shown by their 2-0 win at Dunfermline. Ian Roache picks out five reasons for the upturn.
Captain Fraser Fyvie said it all after the Dunfermline game when he set out clearly and concisely what a difference there has been on the training pitch. He spoke about how enjoyable and focused the sessions have been under Neilson. United suddenly look well drilled and that is due to the work put in over at St Andrews.
Appreciated the United support
The ink was barely dry on Neilson’s contract before he was heaping praise on the 1,000 or so United fans who travelled down to Firhill for his first game in charge against Partick Thistle. There was yet more love for the 1,8000-plus who were at East End Park. If the long-suffering supporters were looking for some TLC from their manager then he has obliged. It is also a clever move from the gaffer because United’s large support is one advantage they hold over the likes of Ross County and Ayr United. You can envisage a packed Tannadice or away end helping the team further down the line.
Convinced Pavol Safranko to stay focused
If there was one player who might have been upset about the departure of previous boss Csaba Laszlo then it was Safranko. Having worked with Laszlo at his former club DAC Dunajska Streda in Slovakia, the Hungarian was a big reason why Safranko moved to Tannadice. However, Neilson looks capable of getting the best out of his striker, who is rapidly turning into one of the best players in the Championship.
Getting the best out of Fraser Fyvie
One bit of luck rather than design for Neilson has been the availability of a fit-again Fyvie. The manager’s first game against the Jags saw him take his captain off after 73 minutes but he has played the full 90 minutes against both Inverness and Dunfermline and is continuing to build up his match fitness. It was cruel on Laszlo that he had to do without the classy midfielder for most of his time in charge because of injury but that’s not Neilson’s problem. The new man needs a good relationship with his influential skipper and the early signs are extremely promising.
Round pegs in round holes
His teams have a much better shape than those under Laszlo and that is due to playing players where they should be playing. One example is the attack-minded Fraser Aird, who had been operating at full-back before the managerial change. He was let loose against his former club Dunfermline on Saturday and it was his excellent cross that led to the opening goal. Also, Callum Booth and Stewart Murdoch look to be better options at full-back than what what was on offer previously.