Livingston match preview by Wishae Arab

Paul Hegarty stepped into his new managerial shoes following the sacking of Alex Smith and this is his first chance to impress (or otherwise) new United Chairman Eddie Thompson, who has dropped a series of hints that he’s amenable to being persuaded to appoint the United legend to the position permanently.

All depends on the first few results of course, but in some ways from Heggie’s point of view the fixtures couldn’t have worked out better, with the CIS cup tie against 3rd division Airdrie United sandwiched between games against two of the SPL’s fellow strugglers.

How the mighty have fallen might be Livingston’s motto this season, as they have plummeted from their achievements of last season to prop up the table. I seem to remember spending most of last season predicting their demise and although my mystic powers let me down, my prediction has belatedly come true.

But I’m not really concerned with Livingston on Saturday as it’s the performance of our own players, which will make or break Hegarty’s managerial aspirations. I subscribe to Eddie Thompson’s view that there really isn’t anything much between the 10 non-infirm SPL clubs and if we are to achieve anything then we simply must start winning all our home games against these clubs.

After their selection by Berti Vogts, Gallacher and Thommo will surely be the first two players to be pencilled on our team sheet. Beyond that, it’s difficult to know what the new man at the helm will have in mind.

I’m sure he’ll set out to show that he’s not in the boring Smith mould, and I wonder whether the 3-5-2 formation so successfully employed in the second half against Hibs at Easter Road might be his preferred tactic.

He’s certainly set out to show the players who’s in charge, with his first decision being to drop Lauchlan to the under-21s in the wee derby, and having attended this game I can say there was little to persuade me that promotion back to the big team is in the offing for Jim.

A nicer guy you couldn’t meet – he often calls in at the garage at Invergowrie after games at Tannadice and always makes time to talk to the lads from the Weegie Arabs bus – but niceness counts for nothing when your team has the worst defensive record in the SPL.

It was interesting therefore, to see McGowne join Jim in the Forfarshire cup-tie this week in a team made up of what appeared to be (with the exception of young Mark Wilson) first team fringe players.

There’s not been much United news in the online press so far this week so as I’m writing this on Tuesday night I’ll not speculate further on the team selection!

Prediction for the result? Well for once I’ll go with my Beat the Manager prediction of a resounding 3-0 United win, with at least one for Thommo!