Dundee United boss Jackie McNamara says discipline will be key as the Tangerines take on Celtic in tonight’s Scottish Cup quarter-final replay, the third instalment of their dramatic four-part “mini-series” .
United, of course, lost Sunday’s League Cup Final to the same opponents and for the second game in succession against Ronnie Deila’s side, they failed to finish the match with a full complement.
Skipper Sean Dillon was sent off at Hampden while the week before in the drawn Scottish Cup tie at Tannadice, Paul Dixon and Paul Paton were also dismissed although the latter’s red card was later rescinded.
Nadir Ciftci was suspended for the League Cup Final and will return to the side at Celtic Park and the manager admitted he will be having a chat with the striker to ensure he channels his undoubted passion in the proper direction.
He said: “Yes, I’ll be speaking to him. It’s like any other game, he’s just got to keep the head and make sure he’s using his aggression and passion in the right way and not get involved in anything.
“It’s a good game a big test for us. We haven’t won there (Parkhead) in 23 years so there’s a great incentive for the players to get to Hampden again and put Sunday behind us.
“We haven’t really spoken about Wednesday’s game yet. We’ll do that today.
“We need to get Sunday out of our system relax them and get the energy levels up.
“Even if we’d won on Sunday, we’d still need the same attitude to go and win tomorrow.
“Obviously we’re disappointed and a bit down but this is a good chance to bounce back quickly.
“From our point of view, we’re not happy with certain things (from the final) and that hasn’t changed.
“But it’s important that we keep our discipline.”
McNamara added: “I think Sean’s unlucky. I don’t think there’s any malice his momentum has taken him there. It’s the way he’s gone for the ball.
“It looks worse than it is. But from our point of view, it’s imperative that everyone stays disciplined and on the park.
“That’s the last two games against them we’ve ended up with nine men and 10 men.
“OK, we’ve held our own for large spells of that and I’m proud of how the players kept going.
“Even in the last minutes, we’ve been trying to take the game to them.
“But I think discipline is key on Wednesday night and energy. We need to use our energy to cause them problems.
“We’ve got Nadir back as well which is a huge plus for us.”
One of the things that United were not happy about during Sunday’s final was the decision by referee Bobby Madden not to award a spot-kick in the first half when Scott Brown knocked over Ryan Dow in the Celtic penalty area.
Having had a chance to look back at the incident again, McNamara is convinced it should have been given and he called for greater consistency from officials.
When asked if he felt it should have been a penalty, the manager replied: “Aye. If it’s outside the box then it’s a foul but it doesn’t change anything. He’s made his decision and that’s football.
“I think consistency with decisions is all you are looking for. No-one is looking for any favours or something which isn’t there.”
While McNamara welcomes back Ciftci for tonight’s game, the manager revealed he will be without another striker.
He said: “There’s a couple struggling. It looks like Mario (Bilate) is out with tightness in his hamstring maybe just a bit of cramp. And obviously (Sean) Dillon is out (suspended) although he’s injured anyway.
“Paul Dixon is suspended but I think everyone else is more or less OK aside from tiredness.”