Mark Connolly impressed with quality at Dundee United

Mark Connolly
Mark Connolly

Recent recruit Mark Connolly believes Dundee United added real quality in the January transfer window but insist there is no “them and us” between the new arrivals and the players who were already on the books.

The former Crawley Town and Kilmarnock defender says the aim of getting the Tangerines back to where they belong in the Premiership will be achieved through a group effort.

The experienced Irishman has turned in two highly-impressive performances against Morton and St Mirren since his deadline-day arrival.

And fellow-new men like Peter Pawlett, Mark Reynolds and Cammy Smith have also shone in those victories.

The 27-year-old is quick to point out that, while the spotlight has been on them, the team as a whole has earned the recent success.

“Dundee United is a very big club and, unfortunately, we’re in the league where we don’t want to be,” he said.

“That’s the reason why myself and quite a few others have come in to help the boys already here and move up and get back to where we should be.

“We are here to add to the players already here because, on top of all the boys who’ve just come in, we have very good players here.

“We’ve only trained a few times together but you can see the quality that’s here and I think the manager has added just that bit more bite to help the football club.”

Connolly realises the changes manager Robbie Neilson made in January means it is going to take a while for the players to get to know each other’s games inside out.

Willie Collum shows Calum Butcher a red card

It’s a process, though, that has been done while winning games and, under Neilson, he believes that can continue to be the case.

“There have been a lot of changes but we are professional enough to handle that.

“Sometimes it’s an excuse if you don’t start well and say we’re a new team and will need time to gel.

“We don’t have the time to do that and we have brought in players who have experience and quality.

“The manager has been different class – he’s a top-quality manager and deserves to be in the top league.

“Myself, the new boys and the boys already here can help him get there.”

Performances like the weekend Scottish Cup success at the Buddies will help.

Connolly feels it’s one that will have had others sitting up and taking notice.

“First-half we did what we know we can do. Being on the pitch it certainly felt it could have been a lot more than 2-0 at the break.

“We dominated the game and that gives you a bit of confidence, especially playing against a Premiership team.

“Second half we knew St Mirren were going to come out and have a bit more about them.

“They did, but we were dealing with it without any real problems.

“Unfortunately for us, Calum Butcher got sent off when it was a 50-50 tackle in midfield and could have just been a yellow card.

“But he got sent off and then we showed the character to stick in and win the game.

“We were playing against a team from the level above us for about 30 minutes with 10 men. We rolled our sleeves up and got the result we deserved.”