Monday, May 16, 2016

2015-16 report card - Dundee United

A total catastrophe

LEAGUE: 12th, 28pts (2014-15 - 5th, 56pts)
SCOTTISH CUP: Semi-finals
LEAGUE CUP: Third round
MOST USED FIRST XI: Eiji Kawashima, Ryan McGowan, Sean Dillon, Mark Durnan, Gavin Gunning, Paul Dixon, Scott Fraser, John Souttar, John Rankin, Blair Spittal, Billy Mckay

OVERVIEW: Well, that was a trainwreck of a season.  Some of us expected United to struggle, but no-one thought it would be quite like this.  Remarkably, they got worse after Jackie McNamara was punted.  Whether that was due to Mixu Paatelainen being incompetent, or because the squad was just too much of a mess to salvage, is not clear - it's probably a bit of both.  United won just eight league games, two of which were after relegation was confirmed.  Oh, and they had points deducted after one of those wins for fielding an ineligible player.  They were by some distance the worst team in the Premiership, despite having the fourth highest wage bill.  They become only the second ever team (after the 2013-14 Hibs fiasco) I've given a zero.

HIGH POINTS: The high point was on 11 August with 10 minutes to go at home to Dundee, when they were two up and heading for a second successive win early in the season.  It all went horribly wrong from there...

LOW POINTS: For the rest of us, Gavin Gunning's tantrum against Inverness where he picked up the ball and walked off was hysterical.  It confirmed to everyone that United were a complete shambles.

STAR MAN: A tricky one.  Loanee full-back Kyle Knoyle put in efforts and performances that shamed his more seasoned colleagues.  Simon Murray hit form at the end of the season and should bag lots of goals in the Championship next year.

ONE FOR THE FUTURE: With John Souttar sold to Hearts, attention now turns to his younger brother Harry, who will hope to fill his sibling's position in central defence.

WASTE OF SPACE: Where to start?  There's the aforementioned Gunning.  There's the remarkable decline of youngsters Charlie Telfer and Robbie Muirhead.  Darko Bodul was useless (and is still at the club!).  Florent Sinama Pongolle got paid a decent wage to sit on the treatment table.  And Rodney Sneijder played just one game before quitting the club and returning to Holland.

THE BOSS: The relationship between Jackie McNamara and the supporters was irreparably damaged by the end of last season and it was no surprise he was gone by October.  Big Mixu looked like a great appointment but he couldn't turn it around and his own signings were pretty much all hopeless.  His tactics at times were inexplicable and he looked desperate from early on.  The mantle now falls to Ray McKinnon, who had two spells at Tannadice as a player and has done a great job at Brechin and Raith Rovers.  He's tasked with getting them straight out of the Championship.

PROSPECTS FOR NEXT SEASON: Hard to tell at the moment; there will be a clearout, but United also have several folk under contract that they need to get shot of - not just to create space but to cut costs.  With the club running an operating loss, there are real concerns about the financial situation.  If chairman Steven Thompson can't find investors, it could get worse before it gets better.  The bright side is that there are plenty of young players who should flourish at a lower level.

FIRST TEAMERS DEFINITELY LEAVING: Gavin Gunning, Kyle Knoyle (end of loan), Callum Morris, Euan Spark, Guy Demel, Chris Erskine, John Rankin, Ryan Dow, Billy Mckay (end of loan), Edward Ofere, Florent Sinama Pongolle

Lawrie Spence (LS) has ranted and spouted his ill-informed opinions on Narey's Toepoker since September 2007.  He has a life outside this blog.  Honestly.

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