Dundee United midfielder Calum Butcher has revealed clear-the-air talks helped lead them to a long-awaited win at Ross County on Saturday.
United ran out 2-0 winners in Dingwall, thanks to goals from Lawrence Shankland and Ryan Edwards, to pick up their first victory in nine games.
Three points in the Highlands also marked the Terrors’ first win of the year and ended a tough spell that saw them lose three games in 10 days, falling out of the top six.
Midfield enforcer Butcher was delighted they were able to turn the corner and believes frank exchanges in the aftermath of last Wednesday 2-1 defeat at Motherwell helped them on their way.
“I’d be lying to you if I said there wasn’t some harsh words on Wednesday because the first-half performance wasn’t acceptable,” the 29-year-old said.
“It was more frustrating because we came out in the second half and played so well.
“The gaffer was angry, and rightly so, he’s had a few harsh words and few senior boys did the same but it needs to be said.
“When you’re putting in performances like Saturday, there’s no reason why we can’t do that week in, week out.
“We’re really happy. We spoke a lot after Motherwell to clear the air on a few things and I think we put in a 90-minute performance on Saturday.
“I’m really happy to get the win, it was really enjoyable to play in and I thought the boys were fantastic.
“If you look around the pitch, I don’t think there was a man that didn’t play well, to be honest.
“We’ve got goals all over the pitch. We just need to put that 90 minutes together.
“I think, throughout the season, there’s been spells where we’ve done it for halves and lost sloppy goals but on Saturday we were solid and never really felt under that much pressure.
“The first goal was brilliant then Ryan pops up with another header, which is fantastic, and it’s a great three points for us.
“We just need to kick on now and keep that sort of mentality that we can really play well and pick up points.”
“Everyone is working their absolute b******* off for each other”
Englishman Butcher praised the character and work rate his team-mates showed to pick up three valuable Premiership points at County and insists they weren’t feeling the heat of a potential relegation battle.
“I wouldn’t say we were feeling the pressure,” he added.
“I think there were more spells last season (on their way to the Championship title) when we were under pressure to win.
“It was more frustration really, when you look at some of the performances we’ve had throughout the season.
“We’ve never quite clicked and lost cheap goals – that’s the frustration creeping into our game.
“It was a bad run but to come out the other end, and Ross County is a tough place to go, and have such a dominant performance is exactly what we wanted.
“You have to do that all the time. I don’t think you can do that in spells or in and out of games.
“There’s going to be games where we have to dig in and we might have to do that every week.
“Looking around the pitch on Saturday, you could see it in everyone’s eyes that they were at it.
“It’s a pleasure to play in when it’s like that because you know everyone is working their absolute b******* off for each other.”
Terrors can’t write off top-six ambitions and praises Shankland mentality
Looking ahead, Butcher insists they still have hopes of making the top six with five games to go before the split and United sitting just one point behind St Mirren in seventh.
The midfield man is keen to start their run-in positively on Saturday when fifth-placed Livingston come to Tannadice.
“You don’t want to write it (making the top six) off,” he said.
“We’ve still got to play a couple of teams around us in that area and we’re coming into the back end of the season with a tough run.
“We’re still striving for that but, ultimately, it’s just about picking up as many points as we can.
“Saturday was just the start of that and we go into Livi this weekend full of confidence.”
Butcher also expressed his delight for hitman Shankland, who bagged his fifth goal of the season to set the Tangerines on their way at the weekend.
The 25-year-old Scotland star hasn’t hit his usual heights this season, in terms of goalscoring, but Butcher says his belief has been unwavering.
He said: “He had a few chances on Saturday but he’s got that mentality where he just keeps on going.
“The second he scored you could see that massive lift from him.
“Shanks is a goalscorer and we just need to get him in the areas where he can score.
“I thought he took his chance brilliantly on Saturday.”