It may be some weeks yet until they can have a real party but Robbie Neilson insists it will be worth the wait with Dundee United’s Championship title over a year in the making.
There were virtual celebrations on Wednesday night as Dundee’s ‘yes’ vote allowed the SPFL to ‘call’ the season and end four years of hurt for United as they were crowned champions.
The coronavirus lockdown put paid to tangerine ticker tape scattering the Tannadice turf but Robbie is prepared to wait for their day in the sun.
Since taking over in October 2018, he has seen Arab anguish from last season’s play-off defeat at St Mirren turn to ecstasy as they finally realised their Premiership dream.
“It ranks right up there in my managerial career,” Robbie said.
“It’s very difficult to win a league title. There are players who will never win another one – very few throughout their career do.
“Players win cups as you can have three or four rounds, lucky games, good draws, but the
sustained effort to win a league is very difficult so it is great.
“The objective last season was to go up and we missed out on the last day in the hardest way possible through penalties and managed to pick ourselves up and go again.
“We said in the summer we would make sure we’d get promoted and I’m delighted for the staff. It’s been tough for them as well.
“That (play-off loss) was a massive driver the whole season.
“We tried to keep positivity amongst players and not speak about it much.
“We mentioned it at the start of the season, but as a coaching staff, it was always at the back of the mind knowing we had to make amends for that tough day.
“It’s great to get over it and have the celebrations now to enjoy.
“It’s been a long period and a long challenge.
“I came into the club October time, so the first January when the new owner came in was a big one and a planning one.
“We brought in the players we hoped would get us over the line the first season, but we knew if it didn’t happen, we’d have good continuity over the summer and could hit the ground running the next season.
“It’s been planning for a while. Three windows to get here and this summer is now our chance to build the squad again and add to the players we already have.”
Robbie admits it’s been a strange end to a magnificent season for the club but that the wheels are already in motion for top-flight football, despite uncertainty the world over.
“To be honest, I don’t think anyone would believe the ending, would they?,” he said.
“You’d need to rewrite the book a couple of times. Even now it seems strange.
“Normally, the day after winning a league, you’d be back in the stadium, still celebrating, everyone would be in and there would be an atmosphere, but it is what it is.
“As long as everyone is staying safe, we hope we get over this and celebrate eventually.
“We haven’t been told when we will get the trophy.
“I’d like to think we will get a chance to celebrate in front of the fans at some point.”
And Robbie’s sights are set on the top six. He went on: “I would hope to make a similar impact, we are not planning to go up there and be down at the bottom of the league.
“We want to go up and get into the top six, that’s what we want to do.
“There has been a lot of momentum built up over the last 18 months and although it will have been a while since they were together, I think we will still have that when we start again.”
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