As they aim to extend their unbeaten run to 13 games, Dundee United midfielder Stewart Murdoch reckons his team faces one of their toughest challenges as they head to Raith Rovers.
He also knows who to blame for that — his own manager!
New Raith boss Gary Locke has put his own stamp on the Kirkcaldy outfit this term but, when he looks at the opposition, Murdoch still sees signs of the work put in by Tangerines chief Ray McKinnon when he was in charge there last term.
And Murdoch admits that will only make United’s task even harder.
There’s good news as well and he believes his gaffer’s knowledge of the Raith line-up can help the Tannadice men to victory.
“You can see in their team there’s stuff the manager has installed in them and that runs through the club,” said the 26-year-old.
“The work he did with them makes it harder for us but he also knows the ins and outs of their team and can pass that on to us, too — it’s a help.
“Hopefully, he’ll give us a few tips on them and we’ll get the win.”
Murdoch believes chances of a United success will be further boosted if they can reproduce the first-half display from when the teams last met.
That was at Tannadice near the end of August when McKinnon’s men raced into a two-goal lead but were eventually pegged back and had to settle for a point.
“It was disappointing not winning that day but the first half was probably one of the best we’ve played and we battered them during that period.
“The second half was the complete opposite and credit to them for the way they fought back.
“It’s important we go there and play the way we can, like the first half that day. If we do, we can win.”
As well as helping the team keep the pressure on leaders Hibs at the top of the Championship, Murdoch knows he also faces a personal battle in the weeks and months ahead.
Sidelined for almost two months from mid-September because of a knee ligament problem, he is now match fit. But he knows he cannot take a starting place for granted.
“It’s taken a wee bit longer than I hoped to get back to full fitness but I’m there now and available, as every other player is.
“Since I’ve been out the lads have been on a right good run, so I won’t be banging on the manager’s door saying I should be back in the team.
“I’ll wait until I get my chance again and, hopefully, take it when I do.
“If that’s today, great, but if not I have to be patient because the team are doing well.”
Having had a watching brief for a while, he agrees the foundation for the excellent recent form has been the defensive record highlighted this week.
No goals have been conceded in five-and-a-half games.
As that suggests, among others, central defenders William Edjenguele and Mark Durnan are playing well.
And in Durnan’s case Murdoch points out that’s testimony to his character as well as his ability.
“Watching like I was for a while there, I could see William Edjenguele and Mark Durnan have been brilliant.
“At the start of the season there were people getting on Mark’s back a wee bit but he’s really stood up to that and the last five or six games he has been one of our best players.
“That’s credit to him, and the partnership he’s built up with big William, who’s been a rock for us, he’s been brilliant.
“For us all, it’s about keeping our run going and focusing on the next game.
“We’re not getting carried away, we haven’t even reached the turn of the year.
“There’s a lot of games to be played and it’s still only December.”