Dundee United favourite Bollan fears Tangerines will face a tough task against Livi

Gary Bollan has played for and managed Livi in his career in football.

Having had a foot in both camps, twice, Gary Bollan will look on with interest when Dundee United and Livingston face off in a vital Championship clash on Friday.

With son Luc on the books at Tannadice, the man who’s now in charge at Cowdenbeath wants to see the Tangerines re-ignite their promotion challenge by picking up three points.

Gary, of course, started his playing career at United, but also had a spell with Livingston before heading back to United in 2003.

Once he’d hung up his boots he also had a successful period as Livi boss that saw him clinch two promotions before being inexplicably sacked in early 2012 when they were in mid-table in the then First Division — a position they were unable to reach again until this term.

That’s not lost on him, though he considers it far too far in the past to feel bitter about.

“It’s all in the past and I’ve moved on, but you do wonder what we might have been able to achieve,” he said.

“When I left the teams above us were Ross County, Dundee and Falkirk. The first two have gone on to establish themselves in the Premiership since and, until this season, Falkirk have always been challenging to get up.

“Livingston went in the other direction but David Hopkin has done a great job since he went there and got them back to where they want to be.

Gary Bollan had two spells as a player at Dundee United.

“He’s put together a strong team that’s very well organised. They’ve been going well since the start of the season and, although people thought they might drop away after Christmas, I’m not surprised they’ve kept going.

“Having reached February high in the table, I’d expect them to keep on right to the end, so, going down there isn’t going to be easy.”

Bollan is also well aware United’s challenge has faltered over the past month or so. He believes there’s time for Csaba Laszlo’s team to get back on track but knows it has to be soon.

He added: “It’s not a good time to be off form and it’s already going to be hard for them to catch St Mirren because Jack Ross has them very well organised. I don’t see them losing too many during the run-in.

“I did watch United’s cup-tie up at Aberdeen and while I didn’t think Aberdeen were ever going to lose, United did fight hard and they were able to take some encouragement.

“Now they have to build on that and get back to winning their games in the league.”

As a manager himself, Gary knows Laszlo has a big part to play in putting things right but so do the players.

“It’s about each player going out and making sure they win their battles, make sure they have a better game than the man they’re up against.

“If enough do that, then collectively things will come together and they’ll be winning again.”

That’s a message Gary hammers home to his own players down at Central Park.

In November he accepted one of the hardest jobs going when he took over the reins at League Two basement boys Cowdenbeath. While the Blue Brazil remain rooted to the foot of the table, and are likely to face and end-of-season play-off, he’s optimistic about the future.

“I’ve seen progress over the past couple of months or so and people tell me we are playing much better football now.

“We have run all the top clubs in the division very close but we haven’t turned performances into victories.”