Mark Connolly believes Dundee United are victims of their own success but have the right mentality to bounce back from a dip in form.
The United defender admits the squad have been disappointed by their recent run, particularly in the league where they are without a win in three after last week’s 0-0 draw at Alloa, as they welcome Inverness to Tannadice tonight.
However, he points to their 18-point lead at the top of the Championship and previous 14-game unbeaten run as proof they have the quality and mentality to get back to winning ways.
“We were disappointed and there were a few discussions after the Alloa game about certain things,” the Irishman said.
“Recently, in the last three league games, we haven’t done as well as we had before. We’ve picked up a few points but we’re not where we were.
“I don’t feel like we’ve let that bother us, though. Now we’ve got the mentality to focus on the next game. Tonight we’ve got Inverness, who I feel will come out and play against us, so it will be an open and enjoyable game.
“We’ve been training hard all week after last weekend and it’s just keeping that mindset of continuing on.
“That’s been the big change at the club – how we react and how we deal with certain situations.
“We’ve shown it before and we’ll do it again.
“We’ve set high standards and when you don’t meet them you get disappointed.
“It’s certainly not something that’s lingering around us. We speak about it because we’ve got a tight-knit group and we can be open with our opinions.
“Once it’s said and done it’s straight back to the drawing board.
“It’s a normal week whether we win, lose or draw. We drew and didn’t concede so we have to take the positives.
“We go again against Inverness tonight. We’re 18 points clear and we want to keep it that way and open the gap as much as we can.
“Hopefully we can. Like we keep saying in the dressing-room, all we can do is keep focusing on ourselves and winning games. We’ve done brilliantly this season and at the start if you told us we’d be 18 points clear at this point we’d be delighted.
“It’s an incredible thing but we also know what football’s like and how, at this time of the season, everyone is still fighting for something.”
Connolly reckons the return of Paul McMullan and Louis Appere to the fold tonight is a huge boost for the Tangerines as they enter the final third of the season.
Speaking about the squad’s injury problems, the 28-year-old added: “If you look at it it’s boys that, throughout the season, have been big players for us going forward.
“They’ve provided a lot of goals and assists. Them coming out of the reckoning has been a bit difficult.
“It’s good to have Louis, hopefully, back tonight, McMullan is right there nearly fully back and even Clarky is a little ahead of schedule.
“As players that gives you a little bit of a buzz.
“It’s tough but we’re a team and a big club so we need to deal with it.
“We’ve got good players sitting on the bench that have come in and done a job.
“I think it’s been difficult because we’re not blessed with too many out-and-out wingers.
“We’ve had people playing out of position to change it up so once we get those boys back we’ll be in a better place.
“Dillon (Powers) and Rakish (Bingham) have come in and did really well. It’s just getting them used to the standards, fitness levels and everything we do at the club.”
Of his own situation, Connolly is just happy to be back playing after putting a troublesome hamstring injury behind him last year and since starting every game of 2020.
“It was a big thing for me because, mentally, it was tough being injured.
“I’ve put a lot of work in to strengthen in my body.
“My hamstrings just weren’t strong enough for the way we were playing and training.
“It’s good to be back in and, hopefully, I can just stay fit.
“I’ve done that, I’m feeling good and strong so it’s good to get a run in the team.
“The main thing is us winning this league and, hopefully, we can push on in the next few weeks to get it done.”