Dundee United boss Robbie Neilson says Saturday’s defeat at Morton might just be the “knock” they need ahead of the play-offs.
The Tangerines boss accepted his side were second best in Greenock as they ended a winning streak of three matches with the 1-0 defeat.
And, as the Tannadice gaffer says, it’s a timely reminder to his players that if they’re not right on their game against anybody in the Championship, they’ll get turned over.
As his side waits for the winner of Inverness Caley Thistle and Ayr United in this week’s quarter-final, Robbie wants to avoid that at all costs.
He said: “We made a few changes throughout the team and we never really got into the game.
“It was disappointing not to get the three points and continue our good run but sometimes it’s good to get a wee knock before going into these big games because we realise if we don’t turn up with our best game we can get turned over by anybody.”
There were six changes to the starting XI as the manager looked ahead to the play-offs.
On-loan keeper Ross Laidlaw made his debut after joining in January from Hibs while youngster Logan Chalmers made a first start for the first team.
Also in was Cammy Smith after six weeks out injured joined by Sam Stanton, Charlie Seaman and Osman Sow, who were all needing game time.
Robbie added: “We put a few young boys in because we wanted to see how they would do.
“I thought they did well –Chalmers especially and then Chris Mochrie came in to become the youngest player ever at Dundee United which was great. He brings quality and, obviously, has a long way to go to become established but that was pleasing. The other ones coming in were more about fitness levels.”
The day began in bizarre fashion as news emerged from Cappielow that manager Jonatan Johansson and assistant Peter Houston, formerly boss at Tannadice, had left the club just an hour before kick-off.
Their decision to leave came after being told by chairman Crawford Rae not to start ex- Tannadice man Charlie Telfer and that their contracts were not being renewed for next season.
“I didn’t know until I came in,” said Robbie.
“I don’t know what’s happened in the background but it’s disappointing for Jonatan and Peter, who I know very well. It was a strange one.”
Players Jim McAlister and Chris Millar took charge on the day with McAlister in the dugout.
He said: “I came in, put my bags down and went to the toilet. When I came back in Housty was saying ‘cheerio’.
“I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes. A bomb was dropped and myself and Chris have had to go and pick a team and a formation. The boys took it on board and they were terrific.”