A championship title winner with St Mirren and eight years spent at Hearts, Liam Smith understands the demands on Dundee United to turn their 10-point lead into a trophy come May more than most.
A 2-1 win in their rearranged clash at Morton on Tuesday night saw United pick up their seventh straight victory and open up a double-digit gap on second-placed Inverness.
It’s a position Smith is used to being in, having led the way for most of the 2017/18 season with the Buddies and also understands the pressures of playing for a “big club” after his spell at Hearts.
And the 23-year-old full-back insists that expectation and demand from the fans to win every week is something he is relishing as they head to Arbroath on Saturday.
“I got my grounding at Hearts so I knew what it was like to play at a big club,” the right-back said.
“I say to people all the time it’s very, very similar in terms of the structure within the club and the fanbase.
“You know it’s a ‘big club’ and you’re excepted to win every week so it’s not been a surprise.
“The following has been brilliant and great to see.”
Smith heaped praise on the 440 Arabs who made the journey west on Tuesday to see Louis Appere and Lawrence Shankland cancel out a John Sutton header which went in off him.
It could have easily gone down as an own goal but, thankfully for the defender, it was given as Sutton’s.
He added: “You’re going to put that down as an own goal now.
“A goal’s, a goal, I suppose.
“Credit to all the fans, though, and we showed them how much we appreciate it at the end.
“They made the effort to come all the way here and I know that’s not easy. We were over three hours on the bus so it’s a heck of a journey for them.
“To come out on a Tuesday night when they’ve probably got work in the morning, it’s a great effort.
“If they can stick by us and we continue to churn out results it can only be a good thing.”
Smith hailed former Ayr Untied team-mate Shankland for his scoring return at Cappielow but reserved special praise for young hitman Appere.
“The big man’s done brilliant,” he said of the 20-year-old.
“I wasn’t here when he was out on loan (at Broughty Athletic), I’ve only seen him from the start of the season and I’ve been really impressed with him.
“His whole game is improving all the time. He’s maybe been stuck out wide a bit just assisting but now he’s getting the goals as well. It’s brilliant for him.
“If we can have our three strikers scoring goals it can only be a good thing.
“If we can keep producing for them by keeping the goals out at the other end then we’re only going to be going one way.”
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As they head for Gayfield at the weekend, Smith is keen to make it a perfect three wins from three this week.
“It’s another tricky one. Going up there is never easy either and they’re doing really well.
“We’re under no illusions how difficult a game that will be.
“We’ve been treating every game with the utmost respect to who we’re playing against and, if we can keep the run going, then it will stand us in good stead.
“Confidence is high, that’s seven wins on the bounce now and 10 points clear.
“If we take it a game at a time now and keep on winning then no one is going to catch us.
“That’s what we aim to do – win every game.”
Smith is enjoying life on and off the pitch at Tannadice and admits the proximity to home in Fife is a big bonus.
“My girlfriend and I moved through so we’re settled and enjoying it.
“I’m from Fife so it’s not that far from home either. It’s perfect.”