Dundee United skipper Mark Reynolds says the players are missing playing in front of big crowds following their return to the Premiership.
United, who were promoted to the top flight after winning the Championship last season, have performed in front of an empty Tannadice and on the road at the likes of Ibrox and Parkhead, week in, week out this term.
Currently sitting seventh, despite lacking that crucial backing, centre-half Reynolds admits he’s gutted the Tangerines aren’t able to share their top-tier adventure with the Arabs.
‘One of the biggest things is…feeling that lift of the whole stadium losing it and you don’t have that’
Speaking to DUTV, the 33-year-old said: “You can only speak from your experience and I’ve missed it. I don’t mind getting told I’m absolutely terrible, I just get on with it, but there’s some boys that it really affects their game.
“Games here, like the derbies last season, you could feel the noise and the crowd lifting you.
“As boys we get a lift in energy and that’s gone.
📺 It's captain Mark Reynold's turn for the latest chat with Club legend Seán Dillon.
As well as a look over his full career to date, the skipper gives a unique and revealing look into a few of his teammates' personalities. https://t.co/Sa218MfZUr#UnitedTogether
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) March 3, 2021
“One of the biggest things is celebrating with the crowd, running over to them and feeling that lift of the whole stadium losing it and you don’t have that.
“Even just interacting with the fans, which I’ve always enjoyed doing, going to dinners or events and having a chat with the kids.
“Whereas now it’s limited. It’s completely different and, for me, I don’t see any benefit of not having crowds.
“I miss the buzz, even just bringing my kids to the games, that’s what football is for me and it’s completely gone this season.”
Terrors missing the big-game atmosphere at Tannadice
With champions Celtic headed to the City of Discovery on Sunday and Aberdeen the week after, not having a sell-out crowd inside Tannadice to spur them on will pain the Terrors.
However, Reynolds believes the lack of a big-game atmosphere against Scottish football top clubs when on the road works the other way, something he noticed in United’s 4-1 defeat at Rangers last month.
Reynolds continued: “People talk about the 12th man and all that but those clichés are all true. That’s why people repeat them so often.
“It’s a massive advantage having the crowd.
“Going to Ibrox the other week, I think we started really good, the front three were electric causing problems and we had two great chances.
“Rangers are getting to the stage of the season where there was a nervousness when they were getting that close to it.
“Rangers will win the league comfortably but there was still that feeling of: “We just need to get over the line, it’s been so long”.
“When there’s 50,000 or 60,000, you feel that on the pitch and the players would’ve felt that.
“That wasn’t there and it’s a huge advantage. I’ve played at Parkhead or Ibrox and you walk out and the noise physically hits you in the chest, it’s that noisy.
“For me, I love that, you feel the adrenaline but there’s some boys who, literally, you see the colour drain from their face and you think: ‘Aw naw’.”
Top six was ‘always achievable’ for United says skipper
As for their own expectations following promotion, Reynolds insists finishing in the top six was always an achievable aim for the Tangerines.
It does seem a tough ask, with two games remaining until the split and St Mirren four points ahead of United in sixth, but you get the sense of feeling from Reynolds they won’t give up without a fight.
The captain added: “For me, coming up and getting promoted, was just about trying to do as good as we could.
“We knew we had a good squad but how was it going to hold up against all these other teams?
“It’s hard because you don’t want to be disrespectful to the league or the teams but I didn’t feel as though, and I feel I can say this as a guy that’s played 500 professional games in Scotland in the top flight, we had any fear.
“Top six, for me, was always achievable and I think the season’s panned out that way.
“Everybody is beating everybody, apart from Rangers who are absolutely unassailable this season, they’ve been a different animal.
“Take Rangers out of it, everybody else has dropped points, everybody has been beaten and, on your day, you can beat anybody. It’s been a really tight league.”