Here we are again then ladies and gentlemen, loving life in charge at Tannadice Park and feeling really invested within this long term challenge. Last time out we were right amongst the competitive fixtures at the start of the season but the form was very inconsistent.
In this one, it’s time to battle through the winter period with league games to come along with the Betfred Cup adventure and the start of the Scottish Cup for my side. A domestic cup run would be ideal but with the Old Firm always knocking about in the latter stages, it’s definitely easier said than done. It’s a busy one this episode so grab yourself a drink and a snack, hope you enjoy the ride!
A reminder for the rules of the save, which are key to progression which is why there will be three self set objectives to achieve each season. This will help my progression and the club’s progression in becoming that go to team in Scotland. The season one objectives are;
- Reach the Championship Group at the split after 33 games (top 6)
- Have a player under 21 make 25 appearances with a minimum of 18 starts
- Have a 20 goal player within the season
If all three objectives are passed, the next coaching licence can be obtained. In addition, if a trophy is won this acts as a bonus token for a coaching course also on top of the objectives. (If a trophy forms part of the objectives in a season, then this does not act as a bonus). I will continue to set objectives after all coaching badges are complete and any failed targets will be added on to the following season to put the pressure on!
Summary and rules done, lets get stuck into some games!
As the Betfred Cup group stage was covered in the last episode, there was only two league games to play. There is a second round Betfred Cup tie which will be covered after the league games as it’s an absolute cracker!
The first league match was away to St. Mirren, which brought a solid 2-1 win. Midfield workhorse Jeando Fuchs got us going with a low drive before Marc McNulty finished one on one in the second half. Jonathan Obika got a goal back for St. Mirren but it wasn’t enough to deny my side.
Next up was Hamilton as they visited Tannadice. The home form may not be too strong but it was a step in the right direction with a 2-0 victory. Youngster Declan Glass continued his impressive start to the season with a goal before Nicky Clark done the business from the penalty spot. Another good performance!
It wasn’t all celebrations though as a training incident rules Lawrence Shankland out for some time…
A big loss to the team but the show must go on and it did indeed in a crazy Betfred Cup second round match against St. Johnstone.
I would normally do the game summary first but I didn’t know where to start! An end to end battle but it was a hectic start as our opponents take the lead about 30 seconds in, Nicky Clark equalised 23 minutes later. It was an energetic game but into extra time we went and former Dundee United star Craig Conway puts St. Johnstone ahead. I was thinking the worst until Declan Glass popped up in the box to equalise again.
Off to penalties in what was a nail biting shootout. The fifth takers both miss for each team which meant l sudden death and then would you believe the eighth takers do the same thing! My heart was pounding and it went all the way to the goalkeepers where Benji Siegrist rocketed one into the top corner, before going back in goal and saving McCart’s penalty! 2-2 AET (Dundee United win 9-8 on penalties). I still feel the nerves explaining it to you now, what a game!
First thing in December was the youth intake projection and it looks like it could be a good one. Not a golden generation but it looks like it could be a good year for midfielders.
December was a very busy month with six league games and the Betfred Cup Quarter Final against a very close rival of ours.
Livingston served as our fist opponents of the month and after an action packed game it didn’t go in our favour losing 4-3. Livingston winger Alan Forrest ran riot scoring a first half hattrick much to my shock, Nicky Clark scored from the spot in amongst that (3-1 down at HT). After losing it with the boys at half time, they came out fighting with Nicky Clark getting his second goal before Marc McNulty equalised in the 89th minute and I thought we had done enough for a point…I was wrong. Livi’ send a late cross into the box and Marvin Bartley darted inside of a defender to head home in the 96th minute, absolute heartbreak. This also ended our unbeaten run abruptly.
After a tough loss you always want to bounce back but it was no easy task in facing Rangers. It was a 1-0 loss after Alfredo Morelos put Rangers 1-0 up after 5 minutes which just took the wind out of my team. They controlled proceedings and a missed Marc McNulty penalty left us with no drive to get something out of the game.
A Dundee Derby was upon us in the Betfred Cup Quarter Final and to my delight the boys secured a 1-0 win. Nicky Clark was the goal scorer in a match that produce many cards as tensions ran high, this even saw Calum Butcher get sent off – real derby vibes!
Another chance to bounce back in the league against Hibernian and another crazy game as we come out with a massive 6-3 win! A match that actually saw us go 5-1 up just after half time as Declan Glass, Marc McNulty (2), Nicky Clark & Logan Chalmers all grab goals. Hibs made a little fight back getting two goals back (5-3) before an unfortunate own goal for Marciano as a Nicky Clark strike hits the post, hits the back on the diving keeper and rolls in. Regardless it was some match and some victory!
Following the cricket score against Hibs, it was back to reality on the opposite end of the spectrum with a very boring 0-0 draw against Kilmarnock. A fourth game in ten days and it looks as if we had run out of a bit of steam in this one.
Another short 3 day turnaround before a home fixture against Motherwell, resulting in another draw at 1-1. A Marc McNulty penalty had us 1-0 up but it wasn’t enough as an 80th minute counter attack from our opponents ended with an equaliser. Fair result on reflection.
The sixth game in 17 days as the squad were really being pushed to the limits but a strong performance brought a well deserved point in a 2-2 draw against Celtic. Nicky Clark gave us the lead before two Tom Rogic goals put the game back in Celtic’s favour. In first half injury time, Mark Reynolds jumped highest at a corner, hammering a header home. The boys battled and held Celtic for the point.
One win in six for my side as December proves tricky, some form is needed in January to ensure we don’t lose our way in the league.
January Transfer Window
The January transfer window was very quiet, I was running on the limit of the wage budget so it was the loan market that done us a favour this time.
Using our parent Benfica, young inverted winger Diogo Nascimento joins until the end of the season providing competition to the left hand side of the pitch. Following Shankland’s injury, I wanted to get cover in for the striker position and 18 year old Real Madrid Castilla striker Juanma Hernandez joins up with the team until the end of the season, with the aim of chipping in with some goals.
First up in January it didn’t concern the fixtures but potential takeover rumours instead, of course it’s in the very early stages so the standard denials flying about.
Into the games and three competitions this month, with four league games, a massive Betfred Cup Semi Final and we enter the Scottish Cup in the third round.
The first of three league games in a row and it was time for another New Firm derby against Aberdeen. Very cagey game with both teams getting stuck in with a flurry of yellow cards. My side are still lacking slightly going forward, I did play the 4-2-2-2 in this fixture but maybe it is time to develop from cautious football. The game ended 0-0.
Straight into another derby in form of the Tayside derby with St. Johnstone. One of my pet hates is losing derbies but it happened here as my side fell to a 2-1 loss. St. Johnstone took the lead before Jeando Fuchs equalised five minutes later but heartbreak as Craig Bryson scores the winner in the 86th minute for the opposition. League form starting to look a bit brutal at this point.
A response was needed more than ever against Hamilton and the boys pulled through with a comfortable 3-0 victory. Marc McNulty got us going before goals from Nicky Clark & Andrew Carleton later in the second half secured a much needed 3 points.
Massive game now in the Betfred Cup Semi Final, won’t get much harder than this match against Rangers. The 3-4-3 tactic was primed and ready. The first half was an absolute onslaught from Rangers on our goal but the defence and Benji Siegrist kept everything out. Then a moment of cup magic, a Rangers corner is cleared and Marc McNulty picks up the ball outside our own box. He gallops with the ball down the pitch evading two challenges before finding himself just inside the Rangers box, one on one with the ‘keeper. Our number 9 slows down a little to steady himself before MCNULTY WRAPS IT IN AT THE NEAR POST – 1-0! This killed Rangers’ momentum and we hold on for a momentous 1-0 victory! We are in the Betfred Cup final!
Straight back to league action at Tannadice against St. Mirren. A terrible start saw us 1-0 down after 43 seconds after the midfield started the game asleep, it made the match difficult but Nicky Clark equalised shortly after half time. Neither team produced much after that and the game fizzled out finishing 1-1.
Last game of the month and it was a Scottish Cup third round tie against Formartine. Four tiers below us in the league system and nine changes were made from me for this one but it was a less than convincing 3-1 win. Adrian Sporle scored before Formartine equalised but it took two Calum Butcher penalties to secure the result. On another day, it could have been a big shock result!
The league form is still not to my liking, a tactical change will be made to the 4-2-2-2 to see if we can get back on track.
After the very inconsistent league form, it was time to make a tactical change and make a step forward in my view of how we want to play football. I now unveil a 4-4-2 tactic to see us through into next season.
It’s the same player roles as the old 4-2-2-2 but its the mentality and instructions that have been amended. Playing with a balanced mentality, for me this mentality only compliments a few formations and this is definitely one of them as its risk free. Its a standard line defensively as well which won’t allow the opposition to have too much space when coming forward. I’ve taken out the direct play as we will be playing narrow, although the team will continue to work the ball into the box. I think these subtle changes have the potential to bring us forward again in the last few months of the season.
Again, the takeover rumours pop up but this time the board come forward in a bid to shut it all down.
Four league games and the Scottish Cup fourth round against the unofficial enemy in Hearts. Fellow Dundee United and Scottish football followers know what I’m talking about!
New tactic and it’s a travel to Motherwell which brought a decent 1-0 win. Logan Chalmers got a goal very early on which allowed us to gain control over the match and defensively the boys kept Motherwell very quiet which was pleasing to see.
On our travels again to the far north to face Ross County and it was another very good performance with a 3-0 victory. Flying wing back Jamie Robson got us going and on his full debut Juanma Hernandez grabs two goals as my side caused all sorts of problems, quality stuff!
The next two games are back at Tannadice and the first was against Livingston. Seem to have a lot of goals involved when playing Livi’ and this one was no different, finishing 3-3. A terrible first half performance saw us 3-1 down at half time, Juanma Hernandez getting our goal, before a kick up the ass at half time got us going. Centre back Branimir Kalaica powered in a header from a corner before relentless pressure allowed Juanma Hernandez to bag a 93rd minute equaliser – love to see it!!
Hibernian visited the great city of Dundee and with a switch to the 3-4-3 tactic, it was a very convincing 3-1 win. The selected front 3 all got a goal in Marc McNulty, Juanma Hernandez & Nicky Clark as Hibs continue their struggles against us.
Scottish Cup fourth round time against the other Edinburgh team in Hearts. Managed by the Judas Robbie Neilson (I’m not bitter I promise…), their squad is well above Championship standard. They gave us a game but we took the lead through Nicky Clark but Steven Naismith equalised 8 minutes later. A very to and from match but a late double secured our progression through Andrew Carleton & Nicky Clark’s second goal.
A very good month and a great turn up in from, safe to say 4-4-2 is the way forward for now!
As you would have seen, Juanma Hernandez has had a great start to life in the Scottish Premiership. This brought him two awards in the Young and the Main Player of the Month award for February.
Somehow we lie in 3rd place. 3rd – 6th all suffer stuttering form. This partnered with some of the bottom 6 finding their feet this season. The good thing is, there is a few games until the league split and unless things go really bad we should be a top 6 side!
Betfred Cup Final
This has been some adventure and I feel my side have truly earned their place in this final. A good group performance, beating close rivals along the way and toppling Rangers in the semi final really showed our potential in this competition. You can probably guess our final opponents and it is indeed a big tie against Celtic at Hampden Park.
The 3-4-3 selected, the game kicks off and immediately my side are all over the opposition piling on early pressure. 6th Minute McNulty carries the pull in field in Celtic’s half and spots Luke Bolton’s run coming in from out wide, the ball is played and Bolton controls wide on the edge on the box – BOLTON WITH THE NEAR POST DRIVE…IN OFF THE POST, DUNDEE UNTIED LEAD 1-0 VERY EARLY ON!! Bolton’s strike takes the ‘keeper by surprise and the ball creeps past him, lets go!
A lot of the first half involved a tense midfield battle but at half time, the score remained 1-0 to DUFC.
The second half started with Celtic clearly fired up and started piling on the shots at goal, the defence and Benji Siegrist were doing anything to block any ball that came their way. The boys did begin to rally as the full time whistle edged closer, Celtic had other ideas. 90th Minute – Full back Greg Taylor plays a long ball from wide into the left hand side of the box and ALBIAN AJETI ON THE HALF VOLLEY ROCKETS ONE INTO THE RIGHT HAND TOP CORNER, 1-1 AND WE’RE OFF TO EXTRA TIME!
Extra time and after both teams leaving it all out there in normal time, any leftover energy could be decisive. 99th Minute – Jamie Robson runs into the box and goes on the outside of Nir Bitton, the defender swipes for the ball but catches the player instead…PENALTY!!! The ref doesn’t hesitate and it will be a massive moment for Nicky Clark. Nerves all round and CLARK STEPS UP…..IT’S IN!!!! DUNDEE UNITED GO 2-1 UP AS CLARK CALMLY SLOTS HOME AFTER SENDING BARKAS THE WRONG WAY, THIS WASN’T IN THE SCRIPT FOR CELTIC!
Half time in extra time arrived as both teams prepped for an important 15 minutes. Celtic piled on the pressure yet again but Dundee United started to hit on the counter, neither side could make a breakthrough. 119th minute Celtic get a deep ball into the box but its a bit too wide, McGregor heads it back cross…AJETI! The striker heads over the bar late on in what could have taken the games to penalties. Siegrist kicks long and Pawlett just launches out for a Celtic goal kick….FULL TIME – DUNDEE UNITED WIN THE BETFRED CUP 2-1 AET!!!
What a victory for the boys after a very hard fought game against a top class side in Scottish football. I can’t quite believe it y’know, what an awesome feeling!
Celebrations all round as the board show their joy over the victory in what is seen as a massive achievement.
Lastly, the cup review sees us as the biggest overachievers, having the best match with our penalty win over Raith Rovers in the group and Nicky Clark sweeps up top scorer with 6 goals.
Next will be the season one finale as we look to finish the season strong and see if we can produce further cup magic in the Scottish Cup! The split takes place so potentially a season objective can be achieved if we do confirm a top 6 place.
Whilst you are exploring the DP-FM site, go take a look at Louis’ (Co-blogger/creator of DP-FM) challenge where he is embarking on his series ‘Unemployed, Unskilled & Inexperienced’ which is currently on season 10. This entails Louis starting from the bottom of his management career with no coaching badges and low attributes to add to the fun!
To go from the start – https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/
Or to go from the current season – https://dpfmblog.com/2021/05/24/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-s10-ep-1-a-decade-in/
Thanks as always for reading, I know this is a busy one but wanted to make up for not posting in the week. Hopefully it was worth it with the cup win! Take care guys and the season finale will be on its way in the next week or so.