Lochee Arab's Weekly Warble

They say that attack is the best form of defence, perhaps they should ask Kevin Keegan for his take on this subject. He has continually put out teams at all the clubs he has managed that have been great to watch, score lots of goals but ultimately win nothing and tend to bottle big-time games. Everyone goes on about Manchester United and their attacking flair yet they possess the best defensive record in the premiership. Up here in Scotland Celtics dominance, although aided greatly by the goal scoring exploits of their strikers, is again based on defence. Perhaps as United supporters we should only look back over the last 30 odd years to see where the best form of defence is. When Jim McLean came over from Dens to manage Dundee United all those years ago, his resolution was to make United a hard team to beat, not only did he achieve this but he was then able to build on this and make us into one of the greatest counter attacking teams this country has ever known. With the exception of winning the cup in 1994, there has only been one occasion when we have taken the appearance of one of the best teams in the country. This was during Tommy McLean’s tenure when we went 20 odd games without defeat. This run was achieved on the back of a great sound defence. It is a bit early to be making rash prediction but the Dundee United team of the last two months is starting to have the look of a team that is built on a sound defensive base. Anyone who has seen united recently will admit they have had greater entertainment as a United fan but few can admit enjoying coming away from united games as much in recent years as they have recently. It seems that United may well be on their way back. Long may it continue and to Messrs Gallagher, Bullock, Archibald, Innes, Wilson, McCraken and Patterson amongst other, I thank you.

Signings successful?

Here for what it is worth is my opinion on the signings that Ian McCall has made as Dundee United Manager:

Derek McInnes: Has grown steadily more like the player we thought we were buying. Early displays in pre season seemed to show the quality he would bring to the club but as the real action started he seemed to fall away a bit. A lot of his work is done off the ball but for the money United are paying him, and the value with which his signing was heralded much more is still expected of the club captain.

Alan Archibald: A Scotland star of the future surely. Can’t recall one bad game since he came to United. Archie already has my vote for player of the year in the bag. He has been one of the big reasons our defence has a sounder look about it now

Mark Kerr: Undoubted potential starting to show through now. Another who will show his best before the end of the season.

Barry Robson: Fantastic crosser of the ball. Start stop run. The team has not helped him settle but if he gets a run in the team he will become a big player for Dundee United. Eye for goal too, which is something we badly need from midfield.

Tony Bullock: Has shown real promise in his few outings. We have seen the benefit of his performance in the resurgence of Paul Gallagher. An excellent option as back up ‘keeper.

Scott Patterson: Had the look of a Dave Narey character before his injury at Parkhead in the opening game of the season. Looking forward to his reinvolvement in the first team.

Collin Samuel: Flattered to deceive so far but has the potential to become the star of the SPL. Needs to harness his pace and exploit it at the right times. Hopefully the coaching of Dodds and Coyle can improve him beyond his current level. Another who has shown there is a gap between the level at Division One standard and SPL standard.

Jason Scotland: Another who has not shown much but recent performances suggest he is finally getting to grips with the SPL standard.

Chris Innes: Has quietly gone about the job of stopping teams scoring against United. I doubt very many United fans were excited when he signed for us but his performances will have changed a few opinions of him. Still prone to giving away stupid bookings but has been a good signing for sure.

The Comic Strip Presents…

Whilst feeling genuinely sorry for the real Dundee fans out there with their club going into administration, could there be any other ending to the farce that has been the ‘5 year plan’ over at Dens. A strategy based on speculating to accumulate in a market place where the goalposts changed was always doomed to fail. People say hindsight is a wonderful thing but to any sensible person this was an evident conclusion as long ago as 3 years. The involvement of Mr Di Stefano seems to have only giving this sorry tale the ending it deserves.

What the situation at Dens should highlight is that any talk of Celtic or Rangers being good for our game is at best naive. The gulf that exists between the top two and the rest of the SPL has grown to such a degree that club reacted with desperation in order to be the best of the rest. We have chased after the Old Firm, following their large wage packet and big transfer fee policies whilst fans from every city leave every Saturday to fill the stadiums at Parkhead and Ibrox. The moment any of the teams produce a player capable of holding their own against the Old Firm, they are snapped up by one of the gruesome twosome. What then follows is the annual ‘SPL too weak to help us achieve European glory’ story. Everyone sniggered as Rangers got away without paying a fee for Kishanisvilli move from Dundee, but stepping back from any city rivalry, this was a kick in the teeth for all ten of the clubs out with the Old Firm. Could anyone imagine the same scenario if Rangers had been the selling club? Scottish Football without the Old Firm would become an Irish league, dead in the water, ready to fold, we are told. I look at a future without them and I see young kids going to games without the fear of abuse and assault because of their religion, rivalries based on football only. Tighter games and more entertainment. At the very least it would dispel the myths that exist in our game just now, the biggest being that the Old Firm keep Scottish Football alive.

Niggling Notion

It costs between £16 and £24 pounds to get myself into stadiums in the SPL. I took my wife and two kids to the pictures the other Saturday night for £12. The film was not great but then neither is the football most weeks. Value for money? Directors can’t understand why crowds are falling? Do me a favour.