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Takeaways from the Championship's opening day



United in crisis...and we've only just started
If Dundee United were to put a motto on their club crest, I would eschew the traditional latin for something French - 'plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose', perhaps. A new season, plenty of new players - eight were making their first league starts for the club - and yet it felt like nothing had changed since the campaign...nor the previous one. 

United toiled badly and were lucky to scramble their way in front before the break; when they conceded it was no surprise that they collapsed, letting in three in twenty-five minutes. Worse, a significant chunk of their tactical plan was based on physically upsetting their opponents. Faissal El Bakhtaoui was clearly a target, and Christoph Rabitsch was very fortunate that Willie Collum was in an unusually lenient mood when he flattened the forward with a challenge that should have got him a second yellow before half-time.

Whilst we hardly expect tiki-taka, United should be dominating teams with the quality of their play, particularly given they clearly have the highest budget in the league by a decent margin. Given the dreadful League Cup showing, Csaba Laszlo is justifiably feeling the pressure. A few more results and performances like this and his position becomes untenable.

Three's a crowd for County
In Jamie Lindsay, Ross Draper and Iain Vigurs, Ross County have three excellent central midfielders. They also play a 4-4-2 system which makes shoehorning them all in very difficult. With Michael Gardyne suspended against Alloa, it was no surprise to see Vigurs line up on the left of midfield, and no surprise to see him wander inside. But given left-back Sean Kelly offers little threat on the overlap, County were unbalanced, lacked width and the centre of the park had a 'too many cooks' feeling.

Only once Draper had been substituted for winger Davis Keillor-Dunn did County really get a grip on the game, and it was the replacement who set up Marcus Fraser's winner. That gives co-managers Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell two selection headaches going forward - whether to use Gardyne or Keillor-Dunn on the flanks, and which of their talented trio is going to have to drop to the bench.

Thistle are still suffering their relegation hangover
According to Alan Archibald, Partick Thistle were without two players suspended and another who was ill, which explains why they only had three outfielders on the subs bench at Ayr. But the main problem of course is lack of depth. Thistle seem determined to hang on till the end of the transfer window to try and pick up quality players, but they risk a slow start and playing catchup all season.

In the meantime they look like a side still affected by last season's malaise, which is odd given their lineup contained only five players left over from relegation. In contrast, Ayr still appear buoyed by the elation of promotion, with Lawrence Shankland taking his awesome form up a division. They thoroughly deserved their win, but the question is whether it was a sign that they are better than we thought, or that Thistle are worse.

Falkirk need time to gel
Caley Thistle fans will have got a sense of deja vu from watching the home side here, with the uncertainty and lack of coherence remarkably similar to that of Inverness last year as John Robertson tried to gel a lot of new players together and took time to find his best lineup.

Falkirk had nine players making their league debuts for the club and it showed particularly in the first half as the visitors looked far more comfortable on and off the ball. Paul Hartley can maybe take solace from an improved display in the second period where his side probably did enough to deserve a draw. But the worry will be that they are at real risk of emulating Inverness' nightmare start to last season which wrecked their playoff hopes before the clocks changed. Next week's trip to Firhill will be an acid test for both the Bairns and their opponents.

Morton grateful to Scully
I'm looking forward to seeing the highlights from Cappielow - the only ones not available at the time of writing - mainly because of the exploits of Morton keeper Ryan Scully. Named man of the match, the ex-Partick man made one second half double-save so good that it was lauded on Twitter by Derek Gaston...the keeper who Scully has replaced. Now that's what I call team spirit.

Despite blowing a two goal lead, the home side could consider themselves somewhat fortunate to get a point. They had only three shots on goal, two of which went in. Reassuringly for the Doonhamers, it turns out that players other than Stephen Dobbie can score goals.

Lawrie Spence 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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