Dundee United legend Maurice Malpas says the laid-back approach of manager Ivan Golac helped them achieve something even the great Jim McLean hadn’t – leading the club to its first-ever Scottish Cup success.
After six defeats in finals with McLean as manager, the Tangerines finally lifted the trophy in 1994 under the former Yugoslavia international after edging hot favourites Rangers 1-0 with a goal from Craig Brewster.
This week, all at United are recalling that day as both Brewster and Golac are inducted into the Hall of Fame tonight along with Jimmy Brownlie and Tommy Neilson.
With the Gers bidding for the Double Treble, a key team talk from Golac did the trick for a United squad that had struggled in the league that campaign.
Malpas told the Tele: “I’d played in four cup finals for United before so it was long overdue.
“It was a typical Scottish Cup week beforehand, for the older ones like myself, Jim McInally and Dave Bowman it was a case of ‘here we go again’ but some of the younger lads were quite excited.
“Ivan was completely laid-back – you’d have no idea there was a cup final coming up. He was more concerned with smelling the flowers!
“We went to Glasgow on the Friday and it was pretty laid back, some even went to the races.
“On the Friday night we saw the news come on with Stuart McCall saying how big a game it was for Rangers.
“They were going for the Double Treble, something I don’t think had been done before.
“Ivan said then that all the pressure was on Rangers and we had nothing to lose.
“A few of the younger lads who hadn’t really thought about it took notice of that, it definitely helped them.
“Rangers were trying to do something that had never been done – there was no mention of Dundee United trying to do something they’d never done in winning the Scottish Cup.
“That was Ivan’s philosophy, there was more pressure on them but we were desperate to win the cup, too.”
The former defender, who won 55 caps for Scotland, added: “Ivan did something Jim McLean hadn’t done.
“We hadn’t had a good league season but we beat the best team in Scotland, the best team for years at that time.
“Ivan’s approach made the difference, though it was nothing to do with his tactics! We never won or lost games like that on tactics.
“If somebody had said at the start of that week that the week would go that way, I would have said ‘I’m not sure about that’.
“It wasn’t the best team and not the best performance we’d had in a cup final because we’d played well before and lost – this time we did what all cup finals are about, scored more than the other side.
“The club had been in a lot of cup finals and I think it deserved to have its name on that trophy.”
Cue celebrations across the Tangerine side of Dundee – when the team returned to the city, it wasn’t all plain sailing, however.
Malpas said: “We had the reception and a bit of a carry-on before we went to the supporters clubs with the trophy.
“There was a wee worrying moment where we somehow got split up from it!
“I don’t know what happened but I think we were in the bar and it was in the lounge and there was a moment of panic.”