There was only ever going to be one winner of the man-of-the-match accolade at Tannadice on Saturday – Dundee United’s four-goal hero Lawrence Shankland.
However, Tangerines boss Robbie Neilson insists that if you took the front man out of the equation, there was definitely a case for giving the award to his strike partner Louis Appere.
The 20-year-old was an ideal foil for Shankland, causing the Inverness defence all manner of problems and contributing with two goal assists.
Neilson admits Appere was fully deserving of his chance to impress after the power of work the player put in during the close season following a prolific spell out on loan at junior outfit Broughty Athletic.
The manager said: “Louis did well last season. He went out on loan to Broughty and scored something like 22 goals in 20 games.
“It was great for him and showed him what men’s football is all about.
“First and foremost, you have to be strong and aggressive, to show those attributes and then the quality comes through.
“He also went away in the close season, looked after himself and came back for pre-season probably in the best condition of all the players.
“He worked hard, deserved a chance and he took it in the pre-season games.
“It shows the younger ones if you work hard and look after yourself, you will get a chance. Louis has done that.
“Louis didn’t get on the scoresheet but he probably put in a man-of-the-match performance if we didn’t have someone else scoring four goals.
“I thought he was exceptional. He has definitely staked a claim for next week.”
Neilson was also full of praise for the contribution of the home support with a bumper attendance of over 7,000 inside Tannadice on Saturday.
He added: “I thought the fans were great.
“They backed us and even when we lost the goal there was still that feelgood factor and momentum. We are going to need that this season because it is going to be tough – there is no doubting that.
“We are one game down and it is great but there are going to be difficult times and everyone has to stick together.
“It was a really good day for the fans to turn up in their numbers like that – over 7,000 was brilliant.
“But we have to continue that and keep that momentum. Yes, the fans bring that energy onto the pitch but the players have to put the energy off the pitch into the stands.
“I thought we did that. We got forward, we got crosses into the box, shots and it is important at Tannadice that you do that.
“It is something we have tried to work on. We know the backing at this place can be fantastic so we just have to continue to do that.
“We hope we will take a really good away support to Partick like we normally do and then an even bigger support the next time we play at Tannadice.”