I might be a daft optimist sometimes but even I know the title race is over in the Championship.
The two results at the weekend did for that – Dundee dropping points once more and then Hearts beating Dunfermline.
I fancied if the Dark Blues could follow up their big win over the Jambos at the start of the year with a couple of victories they would have a chance of going into the next Tynecastle clash within touching distance.
However, that looks very unlikely now.
As it stands, Robbie Neilson’s side have a 12-point lead over everybody – 13 over Dundee.
They’ve only dropped points against the top four, the Dark Blues, Dunfermline and Raith.
Everyone else they’ve strolled past.
And with the chasing pack taking points off each other and dropping them to the bottom sides, that gap will only continue until the end of the season.
The league is Hearts’ to lose now, basically.
For Dundee, it’s Groundhog Day.
As luck would have it, yesterday was the real Groundhog Day and the toothy little rodent reckons winter is here to stay.
Or to stay wherever in America they force a poor wee groundhog to predict the weather anyway.
The Dark Blues are hoping that’s not the case at Dens, not least because the weather would continue to wreak havoc with the schedule.
Last season it was good wee spell then bad spell, good spell then bad spell for Dundee.
They couldn’t get any sort of run together that might get them close to Dundee United.
Until February that is – then they started motoring, found a miserly defensive streak
and looked good for a second-place finish before pandemic struck.
It may be a new-look team now but they could do with a repeat of 2020 from the start of February on.
The good news is we know they have the players to do just that.
The squad is a very good one for this division. Charlie Adam is the best player in the league.
Jason Cummings has the ability to be up there with Liam Boyce and Steven Naismith as the top forward in the division.
Osman Sow is second top scorer in the Championship at the minute.
Then there’s the likes of Liam Fontaine, Jordan McGhee, Shaun Byrne, Jordan Marshall and Paul McGowan.
The ability is undoubtedly there to finally get the club moving towards promotion.
Second place is the first step towards that and they should be finishing there.
Last season manager James McPake had the benefit of the doubt being a rookie boss – he’s not afforded that anymore a year down the line.
It’s up to him to find the formula that gets these quality players clicking.
He’s shown he can get top players in the door.
Now the pressure is on to build a top team.
The beauty is he has the tools to do it already at his disposal.
Poor form or not, big week is opportunity for Dundee United
The slide is on at Tannadice right now and it needs arresting pretty sharpish.
We’ve seen it time and time again, a club has a very decent first half of the season but form dips and suddenly they find themselves dragged into a relegation battle.
Now, Dundee United are not in a relegation battle – yet.
By the time I write my next column in a week’s time, though, they might be.
That’s how big this week is for Micky Mellon’s men.
On the kind of poor run they find themselves in, it will be easy to be down and to start thinking of how bad defeat could be at Motherwell and/or Ross County.
What the experienced players and manager Micky Mellon need to do before tonight’s game is remind themselves and their team-mates of the good things they’ve done this season.
United have been sitting in the top half of the Premiership for a big chunk of the campaign.
That doesn’t just happen.
It might not have been pretty on the eye but the Tangerines had earned that position.
They need to remember that.
And look at these two matches as opportunity rather than something to worry about.
Because they are in a position where two wins – or at least four points – will get them right out of trouble.
It’s a big week for United – there are also big rewards at stake.
Strangely quiet deadline day in Dundee
Monday night was a strangely quiet transfer deadline day in this neck of the woods.
Aberdeen went a bit mad up the road but down here in Dundee it was a fairly calm early night.
Dundee had their business wrapped up last week while United seem happy with what they’ve got – keeping the big names was their main concern, to be honest.
The last few years had seen mayhem at Dens in winter windows – very late last year, a whole new team the year before and that Bain-Murray-Allan triangle of transfers.
Might not be exciting but calm is a good sign in my book.