Rachid Bouhenna believes starting the new season in top gear is a must for Dundee United as they aim to get their promotion bid right this time and clinch an automatic return to the Premiership.
Because, for all the disastrous penalty shoot-out in May’s play-off final at St Mirren grabbed the headlines, the French-Algerian is convinced it was previous mistakes that cost most last term.
The big defender and midfielder’s logic is simple – with the team United had, they should never have been in a position where they had to try to negotiate the lottery of those post-season games.
“For me, we didn’t lose the promotion at St Mirren in the last game, we lost it before,” said the 28-year-old.
“Of course, we had another chance at the end in that game but I believe we should not have been there so it was not the big moment. It was the mistakes before that were.
“Last year we lost so many points and played many games we should win and we didn’t.
“That was very important because, at the end of the season, you saw what happened.
“I think, for myself, we have many times the chance to be first in the league and we miss it.
“We lost many chances to be that first team and win the league and we did not take them.
“We regret those points and it must not happen again.”
That’s why, according to Bouhenna, everyone at Tannadice is busting a gut during the pre-season build up to make sure they are ready for the looming Betfred Cup group stages and, more importantly, the big league kick-off against Inverness at the start of next month.
“We are focused on the season and I know it will be very important after the disappointment of last year for the club.
“Of course, we were focused last year and we worked hard to do well.
“I think this year we are even more focused and we will not make the mistakes we made last year.
“All of us are concentrated and focused on this work that is ahead. Because of last year we know the beginning of the season will be very important and we want to start well.”
That’s why there are no complaints from him about what’s been a relatively short break.
He’s delighted to be back at work and is determined to be ready to go come that cup trip to Hearts on Friday week.
Like most of the rest of the squad, he got 45 minutes in United’s first warm-up game as they drew with East Fife over at New Bayview on Saturday.
And if he would have preferred to have seen his team run out winners, result apart he believes the squad got exactly out of the game what was needed.
“It has been good to be back, to train and to get a game again. It has been a short summer but it has been good to meet up with my team-mates again.
“We have had a very hard first week in training and I think that showed in the game at East Fife.
“We had trained hard, so we were not looking for the result. We were looking to have a good pace to our game and it was for the fitness.
“I think that the fitness and pace was there and it was a good game for us.
“It is a very short summer off and it is a short time for the pre-season work.
“We are working very good in the training sessions and we will be ready for our first game when we play Hearts.
“We have good physical preparation and it is going well.
“We will continue to work hard to make sure we are ready.”