Dundee’s defensive vulnerability reared its ugly head once more against Dunfermline at the weekend.
I couldn’t believe what I was seeing from the Dark Blues in the final 12 minutes against the Pars after what had been such a good performance.
But it’s a clear example that you don’t just turn the corner quickly, suddenly everything is rosy and you start battering teams.
It did look like that might be the case against the Pars but football is never that easy.
Their end to the game when they gave up their 3-0 lead to draw showed there is still plenty of work to be done on that squad.
The manager knows it, the players all know it.
We saw plenty of it at the start of the season, Dundee giving up easy goals to the opposition and putting themselves in trouble.
The overall performance against Dunfermline shows they have made improvements, particularly on the ball going forward.
However, that weakness or vulnerability in defence is one that’ll catch you out.
And Saturday showed you can’t just turn on the tap after a few weeks’ work and consistency comes flowing out.
We’ve seen it a few times in games in the final 20 minutes where, for some reason, they change and sit back a bit.
That allows teams to put the pressure on and we’ve seen more than once that Dundee struggle to cope with that pressure.
To me, that is a belief and mentality thing.
There isn’t a confidence in the team as a defensive unit that they can shut the door on teams.
That’s what they need to instil and, as I say, it doesn’t happen overnight.
I know a lot of fans have pointed the finger at manager James McPake for his substitutions.
However, I’d say he made changes most managers would have in that situation.
Dominating a game 3-0 up and your best player picks up a wee knock, you take him off to protect him. You see it all the time.
And Osman Sow hasn’t played a lot of matches in some time really, he’s not going to last 90 minutes.
As for the striker, it was good to see him getting off the mark in front of goal and looking like his old self.
You think back to when he was at Hearts and you know that ability is in him somewhere.
I know from my own experience that getting over long-term injury can be tough.
It becomes a mental fight as much as anything and it might just take a display like that with a goal that kicks him on.
Coming back from injury, you always pick up wee niggles – your body feels strong but there’s nothing like match intensity and it’s like a shock to your muscles.
Hopefully, that’s him beyond that and leading the line for the Dark Blues.
Having a fit and firing Sow up top would be a real asset for James McPake.
Now, though he has to install some belief in his backline.
I CERTAINLY wouldn’t have said this even a couple of months ago but it’s vital Dundee United keep hold of one key player.
It’s not Lawrence Shankland as we’d all have expected at the start of the season.
I’m talking about goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist.
And I hate saying that about Shankland because he’s been such a big player for the Tangerines.
However, the goals just haven’t arrived for him in the Premiership.
Meanwhile, Siegrist has shown himself to be one of the top goalkeepers in the league.
Just look at the highlights of Saturday’s draw at Hibs.
And it’s not just been one game where the Swiss has shone for United.
He’s been on top form for a wee while now, making big saves and helping Micky Mellon’s men pick up some key points.
And Saturday’s certainly was a good point at Hibs.
United had to try to keep themselves in the game and grab something on the break against a good Hibs side. They pulled that off and it’s difficult to grumble.
Quickly, though, teams behind them have been catching up.
It’s fine digging in for draws but to really avoid trouble they’ll need to get some wins.
I wouldn’t have said that three months ago but very quickly the shape of the table has shifted.
TALKING about vulnerability in defence at Dens Park – the same can be said of Neil Lennon’s Celtic.
They obviously achieved something incredible with a fourth treble on the spin after lifting the Scottish Cup on Sunday by beating Hearts on penalties.
However, they showed their soft underbelly again.
The first half looked like the old Celtic, well in command and dominant.
As soon as they were under pressure, though, you could see the confidence in defence disappear.
You can see when a team isn’t quite right when things go wrong quickly like that.