He may have watched his team hit one team for four and another for five recently, but manager Peter Houston is not forgetting the role played by his defence in providing a solid base for Dundee United’s recent good form.
The Tangerines thumped Kilmarnock 4-0 and St Johnstone 5-1 as they have upped their bid for a top-six finish in the SPL.
Houston takes his side to Tynecastle on Saturday to take on fourth-placed Hearts, knowing a win will take them a point above the Jam Tarts in the table.
The Tannadice boss will be delighted if his players can reproduce the attacking form they showed in midweek when they peppered Killie’s goals. However, he said he has been getting just as much satisfaction out of the defensive displays as the forward play.
”We have scored 42 goals, the third highest in the league behind the Old Firm, so that tells you that we are creating and converting a lot of opportunities,” said Houston.
”We like to attack, but we have also been very good in defence lately. We have scored nine goals in the last three matches and only conceded one. And losing just that single goal gives me just as much satisfaction scoring so many.
”We had a blip a few months ago when we were losing a lot of goals, but we have really shored things up at the back lately. That is just as important as what happens at the other end because I always believe that if we shut the door at the back then we have a great chance of winning matches.”
Part of the success has been down to the form of Gavin Gunning, who has improved since his summer move from Blackburn Rovers. The Republic of Ireland U21 international looks a real bargain, and Houston reckons there is plenty more to come from him.
”Gavin has taken a wee while to settle into the side, but he’s in great form just now. He is just a young guy and he makes mistakes with his positioning and things like that, but he is improving all the time and next season he will still be an under-21 player.
”I brought him here because I feel he has all the attributes to make a top centre-half, and playing with the likes of Sean Dillon and Garry Kenneth is helping him come along.”
Although United have moved back into sixth spot and are chasing Hearts and St Johnstone, Houston insisted he is not contemplating European qualification. With so many teams separated by so few points the United boss is aware that a couple of results, either good or bad, are enough to radically change things.
”We have picked up points lately, but it is still very tight in our part of the league,” he said. ”All that ourselves, Kilmarnock and St Mirren have done is pull St Johnstone and Hearts back into it a wee bit. Those two have dipped a wee bit, as we all do, and that has allowed us to make up a bit of ground.
”But it’s still really tough, because it is so congested and one or two good results makes a massive difference. We can’t rest on our laurels because of a couple of decent results. There’s a load more hard work to come and the players know that and that starts with Hearts this weekend.
”Tynecastle is a great arena in which to play and you always get a tough game down there. They will be smarting a bit from their disappointment from last weekend (they lost to Motherwell). We want to stay hard to beat and be enterprising going forward.”
United will be boosted by the return of Kenneth to the squad, but they will be without the suspended Paul Dixon.
”Garry is back again, and I probably could have put him on the bench for the Kilmarnock game, but I didn’t want to push him,” said Houston. ”He was desperate to be involved, but the physio wanted a few more days with him.
”He is the kind of boy who always wants to get back quicker than expected he tries his hardest to get back again. So it’s good to have Garry back, although we will be missing Paul.
”That is a loss because he has been magnificent this season. He has been consistent, has been setting up goals and scoring them as well as you saw the other night.”