Here we go
The start of a new campaign will take one of the big favourites for promotion North, as Dundee United visit the Caledonian Stadium on matchday one of the Championship.
We couldn't have asked for a much more difficult opening game for Robbo's new look Caley Jags. With around ten new faces, it's quite difficult to keep tabs on what's going on at the stadium as secrecy is the preferred mode at the moment. Even the twitter account dried up last week as fans were left in the dark during the Forfar Athletic game. Aye, that's relegation for you.
If any fans were left in doubt about how tough this season will be, look no further than our performances in the Betfred League Cup, where we failed to progress from our seemingly comfortable group A. The massive changes throughout the club have repercussions everywhere, and on the park it's no different. New Players, new manager and a new challenge in extremely challenging times makes for a season where it might take a long time before we reap the benefits. Sadly, we still seem to be plagued by last years nemesis. Injuries are already affecting Robbo's squad with some key players struggling to get on the park, Tremarco and Doran out until Santa comes down your chimney. Gary Warren and Zak Elbouzedi crocked before the first game, and niggling injuries keeping another three or four out of contention.
The Arabs are fresh from a frenetic Dundee derby where they matched their Dark Blue rivals in the league cup, and the draw has thrown them together again in the next round where they will get another crack at a proven Premiership side. These games will set United up for the challenge ahead, something that we appear to be unprepared for at the present.
United have strengthened their squad over the summer. The loss of Simon Murray to Hibernian was tempered by the signing of proven goal scorer Scott McDonald from Motherwell. Billy King preferred Tangerine to our own red'n'blue stripes and James Keatings and Sam Stanton arrived from Hibs. Tam Scobbie and Paul McMullan will bolster the squad and keeper Harry Lewis came in from Southampton on loan. Less familiar names are Patrick N'Koyi, forward (Maastricht); Jordie Briels, midfielder (Fortuna Sittard); Deniz Mehmet, goalkeeper (Port Vale). The latest higher profile addition is former Aberdeen player Fraser Fyvie.
Out went Blair Spittal, midfielder (Partick Thistle); Luis Zwick, goalkeeper (Hansa Rostock); Sean Dillon, defender (Montrose); Aaron Murrell, forward (Berwick Rangers); Paul Dixon, defender; Charlie Telfer, midfielder; Frank van der Struijk, defender; Wato Kuate, midfielder; Jordan Garden, forward. Loan ended: Tony Andreu, midfielder (Norwich City); Thomas Mikkelsen, forward (Odense); Alex Nicholls, midfielder (Barnet); Brett Long, goalkeeper (Motherwell).
Team news from the Caledonian Stadium is that Gary Warren joins Carl Tremarco and Aaron Doran on the longer list with wide player Zak Elbouzedi out as well. Collin Seedorf is expected to return with David Raven on standby should he be needed. Jake Mulraney will be a key player this season and should be fit for the opener. New signing Connor Bell is ready to go as well
Scott McDonald will not feature for the Arabs as he is suspended, as is Matty Smith, but Billy King is poised to play against his former team mates but ex-Jambo James Keatings is struggling with injury. Paul McMullan could find himself as the main striker once more.
We start the season in sixth place, albeit alphabetically. We will do well to get above that this term. It's going to be a long hard season methinks, with a play off place the aim. Visitors United will be one of the hot favourites for promotion, and it's difficult to see past them being in pole position at the end of the season.
tm4tj prediction:- This game against the Championship favourites comes a bit too early for us with our preparations hindered by injuries already. United limbered up for this with a Dundee derby and they looked sharp and ready for the season ahead. We'll do well to take a point, but the likelihood of an opening day defeat looms large. Fingers crossed for a point.
Robbo was talking to the Inverness Courier ahead of this clash and he had this to say..................
“United are flying, have topped their group and got a win over their rivals. It was a fantastic spectacle at Dens Park, so they’ll be in fine fettle and bring a good crowd up the road.
“It’ll let us know where everybody is right from the start. You get straight into it against a title contender and hopefully we’re in the position after the match celebrating three points.
“People talk about relegation – it has financial repercussions but we’re dealing with it. We have a budget and we work to it. We’ve brought younger more athletic players in to bolster the players we’ve got at the moment.
“Dundee United and Falkirk are most people’s favourites and we respect that. But we want to show we’ll be right up there challenging because there’s a very good United squad coming up this weekend.”