Squad effort needed for festive push
DEFEAT in his first game at Dundee United for Csaba Laszlo was no catastrophe but it was certainly a disappointment.
If Laszlo leads the Tangerines to automatic promotion to the Premiership at the end of the season, by then Saturday’s surprising 2-1 loss to Northern Irish part-timers Crusaders will be long forgotten.
And in some ways, going out of the Irn-Bru Cup at the quarter-final stage was welcome. This is a competition the fans at Tannadice have virtually no interest in and it had, after all, pretty much served its purpose.
Former boss Ray McKinnon had used the previous three ties to blood youngsters and give fringe players needed game time. That was a policy Laszlo continued at the weekend.
Last season, of course, United went all the way and lifted the trophy but, by the time they came around, in truth the semi-final and final victories over Queen of the South and St Mirren were unwanted distractions.
With the benefit of hindsight, McKinnon has always believed those extra games proved strength sapping and costly when it came to the post-season promotion play-offs.
The disruption to the league schedule t hey caused were an interruption that might just have cost his team the second-place finish that would have seen them with two fewer games to negotiate when the promotion challenge reached its climax.
This season, with the exception of the Scottish Cup, United can now concentrate on their league campaign. It’s unlikely the present gaffer will have too many complaints about that.
He also knows when Falkirk visit Tannadice on Sunday for his first league game in charge, he will be selecting a considerably-stronger line-up than the one sent out at the weekend.
Against Crusaders, not one of the players who’d started the impressive wins over Dumbarton and St Mirren under caretaker boss Laurie Ellis were in the XI.
Billy King did come on for the second half and gave the team an