It’s tough times at Tannadice. Rock bottom of the table with just one win from the opening 12 games and Dundee United are really starting to feel the pressure.
The visit of Ross County will have been one of the games that new United boss Mixu Paatelainen looked at when he recently took over from Jackie McNamara and felt they could take three points from. But now, you feel he’d snap your hand off for a draw, with more L’s in the form column than the entrance to a driving test centre.
Frustrated Paatelainen blasted his team as ‘rubbish with a capital R’ after their 5-0 defeat at the hands of Celtic last weekend. When the boss comes out and hammers the players to the media like that, he’s after one thing – a reaction. He tore into them in a string of angry expletives and four-letter words, questioning ‘what was the point in training’ if the players didn’t follow what he was telling them on the pitch.
He’s also demanded that the players ‘toughen up’ to battle clear of the relegation zone. Because that is what United are in now. A real battle; and they are going to have to scrap for every point.
So they could come out all guns blazing against County as they have a massive point to prove to both the boss and the disgruntled fans – or they’ll find themselves being shown the door. It’s as simple as that.
All losing streaks have to come to an end at some point and it’s just possible that Ross County could be on the receiving end of the backlash on Saturday, which makes the game a somewhat tricky proposition from a betting point of view.
County’s form is good but they were beaten 2-0 at Hearts last weekend. Jim McIntyre and his team will be well aware of the problems at United and while they’ll be keen to exploit them, they’ll also be wary of United’s desperate need to get points on the board and the bolstering effect that a new manager can have on a struggling side. Whether United are good enough to step up and do that remains to be seen – but you can be sure that they are playing for their careers in a Tangerine shirt now and if they don’t show the passion and desire that Paatelainen is demanding, then they’re gone.
United have found goals hard to come by so far with just 9 chalked up and they’ve got the leakiest defence in the Premiership with a bumper 26 conceded. County, on the other hand, have scored 18 and let in 14 and the Staggies could be a little jaded and leggy after the highs of their 2-1 mid-week League Cup quarter final win over Inverness Caley Thistle.
On an ordinary day, you’d probably be looking at a draw between these sides – but Saturday is far from ordinary and you can either expect United to be brilliant and win it or find the pressure too great, be woeful and crash to another defeat.
It’s really a difficult one to call with the bookies just fancying County to shade it, so you could get on a cheeky United win, cross your fingers and hope for the best if you’re feeling lucky.
Dundee United Stats W1 D2 L9
Recent Form DWLLLL
Ross County Stats W5 D3 L4
Recent Form DLWLWW
29/08/2015 Ross County 2 Dundee United 1
04/04/2015 Dundee United 1 Ross County 2
05/12/2014 Ross County 2 Dundee United 3
23/08/2014 Dundee United 2 Ross County 1
18/01/2014 Ross County 3 Dundee United 0
Dundee United (4-4-2) – Zwick, Souttar, R McGowan, Durnan, Dillon, Telfer, Kuhl, Fraser, Rankin, McKay, Bodul.
Ross County (4-4-2) – G Woods, Fraser, Robertson, Davies, Reckord, Dingwall, M Woods, Irvine, Gardyne, Boyce, Curran.
Dundee United: Paton (inj), Bilate (inj), Dixon (inj), Erskine (inj).
Ross County: Quinn (inj), Fox (inj)