Dundee United’s team selection at Kilmarnock on Wednesday night left many scratching their heads.
Thankfully, for the only man with any say over how the Terrors line-up, there was no twisting his Mellon.
For United boss Micky, the eleven he chose was part of a clear twin-pronged approach.
Firstly, and most importantly for the club’s vision for the future overall, it was genuinely about giving young talent a chance to shine in the Premiership.
Full debut boys Kerr Smith and Flo Hoti – and Archie Meekison off the bench –
certainly took their opportunity, impressing individually despite the 3-0 loss at the hands of a Kyle Lafferty-inspired Killie.
Secondly, though, there was no getting away from the fact the likes of Lawrence Shankland, Ryan Edwards, Nicky Clark and skipper Mark Reynolds were rested with a view to tomorrow’s Scottish Cup quarter-final at Aberdeen.
There was a sense of frustration among Arabs that Mellon didn’t field the Tangerines’ strongest XI at Rugby Park.
This is, no doubt, born out of the belief United should be winning, or at least being
competitive, each and every week at this level.
Largely, they have been competitive this season. However, it’s often at the expense of a style of football the Terrors support expects to see.
There is no doubt, as they continue to tune in and shell out for streams to watch their team, they’ve grown tired of witnessing the odd drab affair.
It wasn’t a classic in Ayrshire in midweek, you have to say, far from it in fact.
However, as part of the bigger picture for the club, the decision to bench key men and pitch in the young team could prove a very smart one, indeed.
Eighth-placed United have nothing to play for in the league, with seventh the highest they can end up and ninth the lowest not representing a great deal of difference to the budget nor the prestige of the club.
However, tomorrow afternoon at Pittodrie, they do have something to play for and everything to lose.
Just 90 minutes away from Hampden, it’s exactly where the club want to be after five years in the wilderness.
Not since 2016 have the Tangerines tasted top-flight football or trips to the national stadium.
There is an opportunity now, under new ownership, new management and with renewed ambitions, to take their journey full circle with success in the north east.
That having a sharp Shankland, battle-ready Edwards and leader Reynolds available will benefit the mission is without question.
In the dugout, too, they have a man in Mellon who will be up for and has the expertise of the challenge ahead.
A born winner from his time playing and coaching down south, Mellon is comfortable in this environment.
Hopefully, unlike the dismay we saw on Wednesday, progress on Sunday makes for a happy Monday for United.
As soon as Hearts’ relegation to the Championship was, finally, confirmed, second spot was always going to be Dundee’s zenith.
Of course, there was talk of challenging for the title and, given how poor the Jambos have been in wrapping up the second tier, the Dee probably wish they’d made a better stab at it in hindsight.
Realistically, though, finishing runners-up was the priority – and they’re not out of the running yet.
With two games remaining, the Dark Blues are four points behind Raith Rovers in pole position. It is still very much in their sights.
Although, taking on the Kirkcaldy men at Dens Park today, pipping Raith to the post will count on a positive outcome for Dundee.
The importance of second is all anyone connected with the club has spoken about. For me, though, securing the play-offs will be enough this season and this season only.
Why? Well, regardless of what happens this afternoon, a shortened 27-game
campaign means finishing in the top four gives James McPake’s men, arguably, a better chance of promotion if they do finish third or fourth.
With less regular season games to contend with, there shouldn’t be the usual burden of the fatigue that comes with having to play an extra tie.
Quite the opposite, in fact. If they can get over the line, with Dundee finding their feet at the moment, hopefully, they peak at the perfect time.
Please forgive me for this moment of self-aggrandisement but I’m chuffed to bits after Twa Teams, One Street picked up an award.
The Tele’s football podcast – produced by myself and colleagues George Cran and Graeme Finnan – was crowned Best Local and Community Podcast at the Publisher Podcast Awards on Wednesday.
PODCAST: Twa Teams, One Street
🏆 This week…the lads bask in their Publisher Podcast Awards win.
❓ Ask can Dundee United replicate their feat of winning silverware?
☠️ And Dundee's do-or-die Raith clash.
— Evening Telegraph Sport (@Tele_Sport) April 22, 2021
Two years, 113 episodes and tens of thousands of listens later, it was nice to get some recognition for, not just the podcast, but the quality of the wider football community in Dundee.
One city team had to win silverware this season, didn’t they?