Mixu: Play­ers and I are in same boat so state­ment in­volved me

The Herald - Herald Sport - - FOOTBALL - GAVIN MCCAF­FERTY

DUNDEE United man­ager Mixu Paate­lainen ad­mits he felt his chair­man’s damn­ing state­ment was di­rected to­wards him as well as his play­ers.

Stephen Thomp­son branded United’s per­for­mance in a 3-0 home de­feat by Mother­well on Tues­day “abysmal” and claimed the play­ers had 13 games left to “re­deem their pro­fes­sional rep­u­ta­tions” af­ter fall­ing 13 points adrift at the foot of the Lad­brokes Premier­ship.

Ahead of to­day’s visit of Hearts, Paate­lainen re­fused to state whether he agreed with Thomp­son’s com­ments, but stressed the Tan­nadice chair­man was en­ti­tled to his opin­ion and that he and his squad were open to crit­i­cism.

“Ob­vi­ously the chair­man is the head of the club and is to­tally en­ti­tled to say what­ever he wants,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a sur­prise to any­body that he is not happy with the sit­u­a­tion be­cause none of us are. The play­ers are not happy, the coach­ing staff are not happy, the sup­port­ers, the board. So it’s not a real sur­prise.

“It’s not for me to judge what the chair­man says at all. I just get on with the job. The play­ers and coach­ing staff work to­gether. We try to im­prove the team, per­for­mances and re­sults.”

For many, Thomp­son’s state­ment un­der­mined Paate­lainen and the United boss was un­aware of the con­tent of Wed­nes­day’s up­date.

“He men­tioned to me that he was go­ing to put out a state­ment,” he said. “I didn’t know ex­actly the word­ing of the state­ment.”

There was no ref­er­ence to Paate­lainen and Thomp­son ad­mit­ted the board had made some un­spec­i­fied mis­takes over the past 18 months, but the man­ager put him­self firmly in the same camp as his play­ers.

When asked if he in­ter­preted the state­ment as “hav­ing a go” at him­self as well, the for­mer Kil­marnock man­ager said: “Ab­so­lutely. As far as I’m con­cerned we are in the same boat. We work to­gether. The coach­ing staff, the play­ers, my­self, we are to­gether.

“We are the ones who do the work ev­ery day, it’s us who pre­pares for the matches, it’s us who go out there and do our best. It’s a com­bined ef­fort.

“We work to­gether, we fight to­gether, we win to­gether, we lose to­gether, we draw to­gether and im­prove to­gether.”

United were se­cond bot­tom when they sacked Jackie McNa­mara, al­though they had slumped to the foot of the ta­ble by the time Paate­lainen was ap­pointed in Oc­to­ber.

The an­tic­i­pated lift did not come, but the for­mer United striker in­sists they have im­proved de­spite tak­ing only nine points from a pos­si­ble 45 dur­ing his reign.

“Of course we hoped there would have been quicker im­prove­ment, ab­so­lutely,” he said.

“It’s not that sim­ple to turn the ship. We knew at the time when we came in that there were prob­lems. Un­for­tu­nately, the ship hasn’t turned as quickly as we wanted.

“There are many rea­sons for it and I won’t list them in the me­dia.

“The last few weeks’ re­sults and per­for­mances have been bet­ter. Tues­day was a set­back. There are al­ways set­backs.

“If some­one says there hasn’t been im­prove­ment since we came in, I to­tally dis­agree with that. There has been big im­prove­ment, un­for­tu­nately the re­sults don’t show that.”

Hearts man­ager Rob­bie Neil­son, mean­while, was part of a Tynecas­tle team that was threat­ened with the axe by owner Vladimir Ro­manov.

The Lithua­nian’s warn­ing that the play­ers would all be for sale if they failed to beat Dun­fermline back in Oc­to­ber 2006 trig­gered a state­ment from the Ric­car­ton Three that re­vealed ‘sig­nif­i­cant un­rest in the Tynecas­tle dress­ing-room’.

But Neil­son ad­mits he has no idea how United will re­act to be­ing pub­licly con­demned by their chair­man.

Neil­son said: “The chair­man has made a state­ment and he has ev­ery right to do that.

“Whether he gets a pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive re­ac­tion, time will tell.

“I don’t know what the dress­ing room is like up there so it’s very dif­fi­cult to say how United will re­act.

“I went through some dif­fi­cult pe­ri­ods here but we were lucky that we had a strong dress­ing room.

“When the play­ers step across that line on match day, it doesn’t mat­ter what any­one says about them.

“You can talk about what will af­fect them but it’s about play­ing.

“There was a lot of neg­a­tives at that time (un­der Ro­manov), but at the end of the day he was the owner. It’s the same at Dundee United. “The owner can say what he wants.” Asked if he had sym­pa­thy for United coun­ter­part Mixu Paate­lainen, whose side are 13 points adrift at the base­ment fol­low­ing Tues­day’s 3-0 drub­bing at home to Mother­well, Neil­son replied: “It de­pends how Mixu spins it when he is in the dress­ing room. Does he spin it as Mixu and the team? Or as the team it­self?

“Mixu is a clever guy and I think he will spin it to get them all on­side.”

BLAME GAME: Paate­lainen ad­mit­ted he was also in chair­man’s line of fire

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