The start of the new Premiership season is finally upon us as Dundee United take on St Johnstone this Saturday.
The Tangerines’ return to the top division has been a long time coming.
Strangely, though, this campaign seems to have come around very quickly with the condensed pre-season.
But it is great to have games back up here, it’s another step towards normality after the lockdown.
I’m really interested to see how United get on in Micky Mellon’s first match in charge.
The pre-season games, as always, can only tell you so much with loads of changes, to personnel and formations.
It’s only when the real ball comes out you see where the team will be fighting it out in the table.
And St Johnstone will be a good measure of that for Mellon’s men.
You never know with Saints but I think they’ll be in and around where United want to be come the end of the season.
With a new manager in themselves, there is always a bit of uncertainty, though.
Before the pandemic hit, United were no doubt looking at finishing in the top six.
My reading of things now, though, says it’s a case of survival initially while finances are tight for everyone and then kick on into fighting for a top-six spot in the following campaign.
Mellon’s appointment tells you that – he’s a manager with a track record of getting the most out of what he’s got.
So, I expect the Tangerines to go with the existing squad – with maybe one or two new faces or loan players like Luke Bolton from Man City – try to keep themselves out of trouble while finance is tight and then push on.
With the amount the club’s owners have spent in getting back to the Premiership, though, that is a gamble.
The good thing for the club is there are players hungry to get a chance in the first team, young players like Chris Mochrie, Declan Glass, Lewis Neilson and Kai Fotheringham have been getting a chance.
Cammy Smith, too, got the goal at the weekend. If any of those make their mark in the new season, it’ll be like a new signing.
I said last week there were question marks over much of the squad and whether they could make the step up to the top flight.
That doesn’t mean they won’t do it – I certainly hope they do.
And Saturday will be the ideal time to show they’ve got what it takes to shine in the Premiership.
Dundee seem to have picked up a good defender in Lee Ashcroft but the signing does raise a question for me.
After four seasons at Dunfermline and three previously at Kilmarnock, Ashcroft knows the Championship inside out and you’d think would be ready to step back into the top flight.
It’s really important if you want to succeed in the second tier that you have players who have experience of the division.
Dundee’s recruitment over the past year has been with that in mind.
He’s also been on the watch-list for a while for James McPake so they’ll know exactly what they are bringing in.
Where the question lies for me is similar to the one Hibs have been hit with.
Amid wage cuts and financial problems, should they be signing new players?
It’s a tough one. The club still have to be successful on the pitch and I guess it’s up to them which areas of the club to cut back.
Dundee mentioning two players leaving during the summer after signing Ashcroft suggests there may only be one more signing to come.
The final day of the English Premier League season went much as expected, I thought.
I fancied Man U and Chelsea to take the Champions League spots and it to be too late for Bournemouth.
The damage had already been done for the Cherries before the weekend, conceding far too many goals.
For Watford, though, it showed what a ridiculous decision getting rid of Nigel Pearson last week was as they failed to avoid relegation.
It was a relief for all associated with Dundee United to see the Hearts and Partick Thistle arbitration case fail yesterday.
At last we can all now get on with the football ON the pitch this coming weekend.