Craig Curran believes a level of intensity that has “gone through the roof” can help Dundee United go joint top of the table tonight.
The Tangerines welcome leaders Ayr United to Tannadice this evening for one of the most eagerly-anticipated fixtures of the Championship season.
A big crowd is expected to roar Robbie Neilson’s men on as the manager bids to make it his sixth win out of seven games in charge, the other being a draw.
If United can get that vital victory it would move them level with the Honest Men on the 30-point mark, while Ross County would sitting on 28 with a game in hand away to Alloa tomorrow afternoon.
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The Tangerines are expected to play with a high tempo from kick-off and Curran is confident they can maintain that dynamic football for the whole game thanks to the work that has been done under the new regime.
The 29-year-old English striker, who scored the final goal in United’s 4-2 win over Alloa last time out, said: “The run we are on and the improvements we have made in a relatively short space of time have got everyone excited – the players, fans and everyone else around the place.
“There is a really good feeling at the minute so we will be going into this game looking to win again – no doubt about it.
“In football, everybody has their own way of doing things.
“I think since the gaffer came in we have gotten up to scratch with our fitness.
“You look at the lads playing and even when you watch training you can see that the intensity has gone through the roof.
“We have energetic, fast players and a way of playing that suits them. The results are showing that.
“So I would say that fitness has been a big factor. It has definitely improved considerably.”
Another contributor to the Tangerines’ turnaround has been unity in the ranks, according to Curran.
His own game time has been limited to four substitute appearances under Neilson but he still feels part of the group and wants only the best for those who have started ahead of him.
Curran said: “The boys who have been in the side have been fantastic and the guys on the fringe are right on their tails waiting for a chance.
“Whichever team we are playing, whether it be Ross County, Ayr, Morton or Falkirk, there may be tweaks to counter the opposition but everybody knows what they have to do and where they need to be.
“That is the case, whether you are starting or sitting on the bench.
“There is a real togetherness here and it goes all the way through the squad.
“For those of us who have not been starting as often as we would like it’s been disappointing but we are right behind the lads who are starting.
“We are backing them and making sure every day in training that we are giving the manager something to think about.
“If I told you I was happy to be sitting on the bench I would be lying. However, that does not mean to say that I am not backing Pavol (Safranko), who I think has been brilliant for the team.
“At the end of the day, I am here to play but while I am not then I will be supporting the other lads.
“I can only be patient and let the gaffer know that I am here, ready to fight and play.”
Like manager Neilson before him, Curran is keen to show respect to Ayr for their table-topping exploits.
However, he thinks what will really matter tonight is how United perform under the floodlights.
“Ayr have done fantastically well,” he said.
“Take nothing away from them but, for me, it’s not about them.
“It’s about Dundee United and what we will do on the night.
“We have to make sure we approach it in the right manner.
“We have done exactly that for every game of late and that’s why we are on this fantastic run.”
Curran is also cautious about looking too far ahead, despite the tantalising prospect of going level at the top of the table should they take three points.
The Liverpudlian added: “It is game by game for us.
“We will leave others to talk about where we will be at Christmas or the end of the season.
“They can say whether or not we are going to win promotion.
“We are here to win games every week regardless of who we are playing.
“We had a tough game against Alloa last time and I felt we dealt with the pressure really well.
“People expect us to win these games but you still have to go out there and do it.
“It was nice to build on the victory up at Ross County.
“I think going up there to beat a fantastic team was a big result for us. It was not just about putting points on the board but also getting a psychological boost.
“I said it could be a season-defining game, that one, and the lads were great.
“If we can go and win again against the league leaders that would be another huge achievement.
“We have to be up there challenging at this club and there is pressure on us but we are paid to deal with that.”