TOM DUTHIE: Dundee United fans should listen to Gary Barlow and have a little patience

Gary Barlow, a pop star of some note apparently, is heading for Dundee early next year to perform in concert.

OK, I’ll come clean — I know fine well who he is and one of my dark secrets is I quite like his music, both as a solo artist and with ageing boy band Take That.

That’s why I happen to know one of the big hits he’s penned is called Patience.

When he’s strutting his stuff on stage at the Caird Hall maybe he could sing it for Dundee United fans.

Without being too critical of a set of supporters who’ve had to endure more than most, just having a little patience — to almost quote the first line of the song — might help.

Gary Barlow and Dundee United fans

First off, I should say to the 1,298 United fans who travelled to Livingston to see a miserable 2-0 defeat, don’t take that (see what I did there) as criticism of booing the team off at the end.

Neither is it having a go at the stick that was dished out from the stands during the game.

While what was shouted was not complementary, neither was it undeserving or disproportionate to an extremely-frustrating performance.

In the moment, it was understandable that fans should vent their spleens. There can be no question what was served up was not good enough.

Livingston’s Danny Mullen celebrates after making it 1-0 against Dundee United last weekend

Where it can be argued the reaction was over the top was — as is often the case in these times of keyboard warriors — on social media.

While people had a right to express their disappointment, calls for manager Ray McKinnon’s head were ridiculously premature.

Poor as United were, this was a first defeat in seven games and followed two big victories that had seen them close to a point off the top of the Championship.

Given the size of the squad rebuild that had to be undertaken over the summer, that time would be needed for the team to gel was a certainty. And the fact there remains three quarters of the league campaign to go means there’s still time to get things right.

There was a marked improvement in performances as United won big games against Morton and Dunfermline last month but that there would be further hiccups was always possible.

As already stated, that’s not to say a degree of criticism is justified. Having gone into the Livi clash with confidence boosted by those recent wins, United should have been able to cope with the loss of an early goal better than they did.

After Danny Mullen’s seventh-minute opener, they lost their way for a big chunk of the first half. There was an improvement after the break when lengthy periods of pressure were exerted.

Even so, not enough clear-cut chances were created and then another sloppy goal was lost, hence the jeers on the final whistle being something about which the players could have no complaints.

Poor as the play was, not one of the 13 men used could be criticised for lack of effort. At times, the thought process could have been better and the number of bad choices made when in possession was another cause of frustration.

If there was another criticism it was that United wanted to play too much nice football against a team intent on making the proceedings a battle. That’s not the main strength of McKinnon’s side but, in this league, it’s something they have to be prepared to do. Opposing teams are not going to sit back and let them play their preferred passing football.

None of those criticisms change the fact this is a team that’s been improving.

Hopefully, Saturday was a blip.

That’s why, as Barlow says, United fans should have a little patience — at least for a few more weeks.