Dundee United lie amidst the wreckage of their worst form of the season but, thankfully for all concerned, it’s likely to be more of a quick clear up than a complete overhaul needed to fix it.
Last Friday night’s goalless draw down at Alloa represented the first time United have gone three Championship games without a win this term, leaving some twitching ever so slightly about their title hopes.
Despite the pretty blunt display at the Indodrill Stadium and previous below-par performances against Arbroath and Morton, they need not worry.
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The Terrors are still set to canter to the title, riding high at the top of the second-tier with an 18-point advantage, and could even have it all wrapped up by as early as next month as we enter the final third of games.
Instead of despairing over their lack of attacking guile against the Wasps, Arabs should be revelling in the resolute return of Paul Watson to their back four, the heroics of No 1 Benjamin Siegrist to earn what could be a crucial point come the end of the campaign and forward Rakish Bingham’s debut.
The positives are clear to see after picking up a result against a tough and in-form Alloa side in difficult conditions but it is sometimes difficult to make out when the negatives are as glaring as they were.
From middle to front, United were desperately lacking a creative force to knit passages of play together.
Try as they might to engineer their own chances, Lawrence Shankland and new boy Bingham were often crowded out by a disciplined home defence.
Peter Pawlett, Jamie Robson and Liam Smith were offering good outlets from wide areas and getting to the byline at will.
However, when they got there, the problem was their delivery was often severely lacking.
Injuries to key attacking talent like Nicky Clark, out for the season with a broken ankle, Paul McMullan, struggling to overcome a groin problem and Louis Appere, who pulled up in the warm-up with an ankle niggle, doesn’t help their cause nor boss Robbie Neilson options as he was forced to field Ian Harkes out of position on the right of midfield.
The American applied himself reasonably well, though, with Appere expected to be OK for Friday and United hopeful over McMullan, he is only a deputy.
Where it may be fair to scrutinise Robbie for his team selection is in the centre of the park. Calum Butcher lined up as captain alongside US anchorman Dillon Powers with their two styles clearly clashing.
They are very similar and both good players. The difference is Butcher looks settled, up to speed and gives his side an edge.
That Powers is not a creative force goes against him and, with Declan Glass available on the bench, it was a surprise Robbie didn’t throw the forward-thinking kid in at any stage.
Powers and Butcher did give the Tangerines plenty of possession and a platform to play, however, too often the American was caught out with United, generally, lacking ideas through the middle.
All that aside, the game went ahead and United came away with something from a difficult venue, which is more than can be said for some this weekend as the weather wreaked havoc down at Ayr, causing their clash with Morton to be postponed.
United playing when others aren’t is an advantage in itself as they set a target which closest “challengers” Ayr and Inverness simply won’t catch.
However quickly or slowly they wrap up the title, that the Terrors will is a foregone conclusion.
The second-placed Caley Jags calling in at Tannadice this Friday, though, is as good a chance as any to plough on.