Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara admits he has been impressed by Aberdeen’s ability to close the defensive door.
Half of the Dons’ last dozen matches have been won by 1-0 and the Pittodrie men have shut out the opposition in all but two of those matches – the Scottish Cup defeat to Dundee and a home league loss to Celtic.
It is clear that the new Premiership leaders’ success has been built on a solid defence.
United have shown plenty of flair in recent games, for example the derby demolition of Dundee, but they have had lapses too, most recently in the first half of their 2-2 draw against Partick Thistle on Sunday.
That has led to accusations that they lack consistency as a team but McNamara believes the problem is subtler than that.
And he wouldn’t mind repeating what Aberdeen have managed to achieve during their march to the top of the table.
“For us, I don’t think the problem is inconsistency as much as a lack of concentration,” said the Tannadice boss.
“Being inconsistent means one week you have players who are great and then the next they are poor.
“However, I think our problem is that at certain points in games things don’t go right for us.
“Against St Johnstone, for example, I thought we were comfortable but then lost a goal to a free header, just as we did against Thistle.
“That saw us lose our way and our shape, again as happened at Firhill.
“Against Dundee it was different because we went on and got the third goal and so on, building confidence.
“So it’s maybe more about mental strength.
“You look at Aberdeen and see them grinding out results.
“They can get the one-nils and don’t really give much away.
“They don’t give things away because of silly mistakes and as a result you don’t see them get punished.
“Teams have chances against them but they are showing strength to keep the opposition out.”
United face Hamilton at New Douglas Park on Monday night, with Accies without a manager after Alex Neil agreed to move to Norwich City.
McNamara feels improvement is needed from the Jags game if the Tangerines are to move back ahead of their hosts and into third spot.
“It was just frustrating for me on Sunday because I thought after the first 25 minutes that we were going to end up as convincing winners,” said McNamara
“Gary Mackay-Steven got in behind them after the first minute and we then got our goal.
“However, they got a free header and then we lost another.
“It was worrying how we lost our shape.
“We were really all over the place, disjointed and showed fear.
“In the second half, it was one-way (traffic) as they camped in and we attacked.
“We did get a goal back and there could have been others.
“But that spell in the first half cost us a couple of points.
“Hamilton are a side that can punish you, as we all saw when they played Motherwell the other week there.
“They are very hungry and hard-working. We need to match that hunger.”