Dundee United scraped through to the fourth round of the League Cup last night with an extra-time victory over Dunfermline.
It was just their second win of what has been a disaster season so far. Their first since August 8.
But what did we learn about Jackie McNamara and his Tangerines last night. Here’s a five things…
Dundee United have got character
It might well have been against third tier opposition but Dundee United proved they’ve got balls last night.
In fact, they did that at the weekend too.
I’m certain the Tangerines of February, March, April or May might well have crumbled in similar circumstances on Saturday or last night.
Conceding a goal just 10 minutes into the second-half against Inverness felt ominous. I got the sinking feeling the players might throw it away. But they didn’t.
And again last night when Dunfermline went ahead I worried for them. But they fought back into it and had the character to come out the other end victorious.
Jackie does not know his best formation
In recent weeks we’ve seen Jackie move away from his tried and tested 4-2-3-1.
That, to be honest, is not a bad thing at all. It’s good to see a manager adapt to circumstance and change to suit what players he has at his disposal.
But last night the side was switched around maybe three of four times in the first half alone.
That’s not skill – that smacks of indecisiveness to me.
I don’t think he’s sure whether his best tactic is a midfield diamond, a regular 4-4-2 or a return to a lone frontman.
Ryan McGowan is a leader
He’s not the most vocal on the park but he certainly leads by example.
Aussie Ryan McGowan, who had the armband last night, is a player who the youngsters in the camp should watch carefully.
No matter what the situation he gives his all. Whether that’s chasing a lost ball all the way to the touchline or tracking his man every inch of the way.
There’s a real steely, determination about the full-back. If United had 11 Ryan McGowan’s who knows where they’d be right now.
The conveyor belt is alive and well
Last night saw 17-year-old Jamie Robson make his first-team debut.
It’s become common place that kids get their chance early at United, but few come in when the stakes are so high.
With a win crucial for the manager’s future he still stuck to his guns by throwing Robson in, despite his tender years and lack of experience.
And to be honest the youngster did himself proud.
He became yet another one off the production line from the Tangerines youth team. They just keep coming and coming.
Kids make mistakes – that’s nothing new, though
Luis Zwick dropped a clanger. And to be honest it was a real howler.
But that’s to be expected – the inexperienced no.51 is playing in his first season in senior football. He’s really having to learn on the job. And despite being an excellent young keeper he will make mistakes from time to time. The fans, like the management do, will just have to live with it.
Now might have been a good time to take the kid out the team for a week or two, but Jackie doesn’t have that luxury.