Dundee United striker Marc McNulty insists the Tangerines head into 2021 full of optimism.
The Tannadice men ended the old year with a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Celtic Park on Wednesday.
The challenges don’t get much easier after the bells, with Micky Mellon’s men first-footing Aberdeen at Pittodrie today.
Despite that result against the Hoops in midweek, the Tangerines clung on to their fifth spot in the Premiership table and McNulty cited that as a reason to be upbeat about the remainder of the campaign.
The on-loan Reading frontman said: “We lost at Celtic but we finished the year in fifth place and that is an achievement.
“You do have to remember that we are the new team in the division, the one that has been promoted.
“If you were to offer us the possibility of a top-six finish at the start of the season I think most fans, the players and the board would have bitten your hand off.
“What we have is something to build on in the second half of the campaign.
“To be there at this stage gives us confidence and now we hope to kick on and really cement out position in the table.
“It is good to be there going into 2021 and we can look forward to the new year with optimism.”
While the festive period has not been what anyone would have wished for because of the coronavirus restrictions, McNulty is embracing the challenge of game after game.
He said: “As a player at this time of the year, you love the games especially if they are at places like Celtic Park and Pittodrie.
“That is why you play football – to be involved in tough tests like these.
“It was difficult to go to Parkhead in midweek and lose like we did but we have to move on quickly.
“The fixtures really do come thick and fast and you need to get points out of them.
“We have to regroup for Aberdeen now and refocus.”
McNulty will be hoping to go one better and get on the scoresheet against the Dons after having an effort cleared off the line at Parkhead.
He joked: “It was close, wasn’t it?
“I guess those are the fine margins that we all speak of when it comes to looking back on games.
“We were 2-0 down at the time when I nearly scored that one.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t go in and Celtic went up on to get the third goal and kill the game.
“Against a team like them at Parkhead it is very difficult, to say the least, to come back from that.
“When it went to three it was all but over, whereas at two we were still in it.
“I suppose there were a lot of negatives to take from the game on Wednesday because we got beaten by three goals but one of the positives was definitely the chances we did create.
“On a different day, I would have gotten a goal.
“We also had a wee penalty shout and Clarkie had a good chance.
“So that could have all added up.
“We should have been more ruthless and when we do get opportunities at Pittodrie we will have to take our chances.”