Well then… that was a lot, wasn’t it?
In the article I wrote back in December, I predicted that we would sign maybe 3 players. I was very wrong, we signed almost quadruple that, with 11 players coming in, so my campaign to be considered the next Nostradamus will have to wait a wee bit. As well as this, 8 players departed the club, either on loan or permanently, showing 1. That both Neilson and Ogren are dedicated to getting Dundee United promoted this season, and 2. That the team that Laszlo had built was not good enough to achieve this goal.
You’ve really got to credit the new ownership, they have shown the willingness to invest in order to get this club promoted, not just with the new players being brought in but also letting Neilson bring Gordon Forrest as his assistant and Lee McCulloch in as Strikers coach, as well as the appointment of Andy Goldie to academy director.
Let’s go through each player who has signed and who has left and see how United can get on with the squad that they have.
Aidan Nesbitt – Attacking Midfielder/Winger – From MK Dons for Free
Make sense to start with our first signing, Aidan Nesbitt was the first part of three in Neilson’s efforts to reinvigorate United’s attacking front three, signing until the end of the season. Since his arrival, he has contributed by getting a penalty and 2 assists, not a bad contribution considering he’s only started one match of the 5 he’s played in. I’ve not seen enough of him to make a confident statement, but I do like the look of him. He seems direct and likes a cross in the box, which is already an improvement on McMullan and King. Hopefully, he can get a proper run in of games to show what he can do.
Cammy Smith – Attacking Midfielder/Winger – From St. Mirren for an undisclosed fee
This has the potential to be a very good signing. Smith has already been here before, on loan in our first season in the championship. Unfortunately, despite a fantastic performance with a first-half hat-trick in a 3-1 win against Partick Thistle, the arrival and instant impact of Tony Andreu led to him being dropped to the bench and eventually his loan was cancelled. He’s now back permanently, after spending a year and a half at St. Mirren proving that United was wrong to let him leave, picking up a championship medal and a hatred of all things Alan Stubbs related along the way. Smith is a better player than when he was here before, he’s smarter, and energetic and seems to be fitter as well, this, again, should be a good signing, and, considering we paid for him, he needs to be more than most of our new signings.
Morgaro Gomis – Central Midfielder – Free Agent, previously at Sur SC
This is gonna be controversial but I don’t think, on the pitch at least, that this will be a good signing. I get why people are excited, but 2010 was 9 years ago now, and Jimmy has spent the last three years playing in Malaysia and Oman, and while my knowledge of Asian and *googles Oman* Middle Eastern football is very vague, I can’t imagine that it’s better or even the same level as the Scottish Championship. His shocker of a performance against Ayr doesn’t fill me with confidence either, though, in fairness to him, no one was good that day.
Ian Harkes – Central Midfielder – Free Agent, previously at DC United
Harkes put in a man of the match performance against Greenock Morton and followed it up with an arguably even better one against St. Mirren, and so already has the fans on his side. He can do anything, good passing, good vision, great work rate, he’s a fantastic box-to-box midfielder. With Fyvie not match fit and Stanton maybe not fitting the system that Neilson will want to play, Harkes has the chance to make that spot in centre mid his own.
Ross Laidlaw – Goalkeeper – on loan from Hibernian
A decent backup option but I’ll be surprised if he’s anything more than that. He’ll probably start at least one game but aside from that, I can’t see Siegrist being dropped, he hasn’t been so bad that someone could come in and immediately replace him.
Charlie Seaman – Right Back – On Loan from AFC Bournemouth
Please be good. fucking hell, please be good. I don’t think United fans could handle another minute of Stewart Murdoch at Right Back. Seaman has played his first three games of first-team football ever and hasn’t looked out of his depth for United. A typical attacking full-back, his pace and his ability to find the space to overlap will be useful, his defending ability does worry me, however. His high rate work rate and willingness to get back and recover from potential mistakes has already endeared the Bournemouth loanee to the fans, like when he got bullied off the ball in the box by Nazon against St. Mirren and the fans didn’t immediately scream abuse at him because they knew he could recover from it. I doubt Murdoch would’ve been given the same treatment.
Peter Pawlett – Attacking Midfielder – Undisclosed Fee from MK Dons
Gregor Buchanan probably had nightmares of Peter Pawlett running at him when he was sleeping the Saturday night after that match. Pawlett, like Nesbitt, is so much more direct than what we previously had, and it’s refreshing to watch someone who doesn’t fanny about and just gets forward, looking for the through ball or the shot.
Calum Butcher – Centre Midfielder – Previously at Mansfield Town
Calum Butcher is everything that Willo Flood thinks he is. big, physical, energetic, with a decent pass and a good shot, he’s a very good all-round player. But he also brings something that has been missing from United for a long, long time – he’s aggressive, he takes no bullshit from anybody, especially the opposition. I don’t see it as a coincidence that Morton got back into the match as soon as Butcher came off. And while his play style does mean that he can occasionally get sent off, as shown against St. Mirren, it’s a necessary risk to play him in my eyes.
Mark Connolly – Centre Back – Undisclosed Fee from Crawley Town
I was surprised when Connolly signed, simply because I thought that both Frans and Bouhenna, while not being great, have been okay, and I didn’t think that position was one that needed a change. Safe to say I’ve been proved wrong. Connolly is your typical no-nonsense centre back, get the ball and give it to someone who can get it forward. Simple stuff.
Mark Reynolds – Centre Back – On loan from Aberdeen
Okay look, Reynolds is a good player. He’s the yin to Connolly’s yang, good with the ball at his feet, good passer, someone who leads and gives orders to the rest of the backline. He’s a leader, and we’ve been missing a leader. But… he looks a lot like Sean Dillon from a distance. I hate Sean Dillon. He’s one of the worst players I’ve seen at United. So, as unfair as it is, Reynold’s is fighting a losing battle to win me over on that basis.
Osman Sow – Striker – Undisclosed Free from MK Dons
A lot of United fans are very, very excited about this signing, so I feel the need to be the voice of reason. the fact is, Sow has only reached double figures with two clubs, Hearts, and Vasby United in the Swedish Third Division, he’s failed to get even 5 at other teams. As well as this, I’m not sure what he brings that Pavol Safranko doesn’t have, apart from maybe pace. He scored 11 goals in his one previous season in the Scottish Championship, a record that Safranko is well on course to beat. He also seems, based off his brief appearances against Morton and St. Mirren, very fucking lazy and not willing to put the work in to create goalscoring chances for himself, instead relying on others around him. I do hope that these concerns are unfounded, however, and that Sow goes on to score the goals that are needed. Some players just suit a particular coach, hopefully, Sow is one of those players.
Craig Curran – Striker – To Dundee for Free
How the fuck did we manage this? How the fuck did we not only get a player as useless as Curran off his 3-year contract but also managed to move him onto Dundee? Thank you, Agent McIntyre, that was fantastic work.
Matej Rakovan – Goalkeeper – Released
It takes some fucking effort to be considered awful by the goalkeeping standards at Dundee United, but on the scale with Dusan Pernis at 10 and Eiji Kawashima 1, Rakovan would a 2, alongside Michal Szromnik, and at least Szromnik had the excuse of being born with a disability that made him unable to jump. Rakovan has already found a new club, and I wish that fan base all the best as they battle alcoholism in the near future.
Scott Allardice – Defensive Midfielder – Released, then signed for Bohemians
I’m not sure what went wrong with Allardice. He always looked fine when he played for United, not great, but not poor. He looked like he had the ability to be a real ball player with the physicality to not be bullied and could do a decent job at centre back. I don’t really know what happened. Attitude maybe? even then that’s something that would’ve been rumoured. Hope he can recover from whatever his issues are and can kick on in the Irish Republic.
Lewis Toshney – Utility Man – On loan to Brechin City
It’s a shame what has happened to Toshney. He’s spent pretty much all of his time at United on the injury table, and considering how incompetent Jeff Clarke is (was? he’s not been seen since Neilson’s appointment but also hasn’t officially left) as a physio, that likely only made his injuries worse. And even if he wasn’t that great at United, it’s hard to be venomous towards someone in his situation.
William Edjenguele – Centre Back – On Loan to Falkirk
It’s mental how Stephen Dobbie’s kryptonite is, of all people, William Edjenguele. Seriously, this guy’s record this season against Dobbie is 2 wins with no goals conceded, for two different teams. considering Dobbie has scored 37 goals in all competitions, that is fucking mental.
Shame he’s awful against everyone else. Well apart from those 3 games, he was really good for those 3 games. but apart from that, fuck off.
Billy King – Winger – On Loan to Gillingham
Y’know, the typical criticism of the mediocre-to-shit winger is that they have “great ability, no end product”. Paul McMullan is certainly a good example of that, a man(?) who can run from one of the pitch to another, only to cross the ball out for a goal-kick, previous United player Aidan Connolly was again another example, he could skin 3 players only to fire a shot directly into the stands. King is, somehow, the opposite, a great crosser and a decent shot who simply cannot beat a man to save his life.
Fraser Aird – Winger – On Loan to Queen of the South
Fraser Aird, the only man to get 13 assists and still not be very good at his job. It’s amazing how much free kicks and corners can pad someone’s stats. A player who didn’t know that defending was a thing, He’s far too lazy for the kind of tactics that Neilson wants to play.
Adam Barton – Defensive Midfielder – On loan to Connah’s Quay Nomads
It’s over, the evil has been defeated. Adam Barton has left Scottish football and everything makes sense in the world once more. The laziest waste of space I’ve ever seen, he won’t be missed and the fact that he could win the IRN-BRU Cup is hilariously depressing.
Deniz Mehmet – Goalkeeper – Released, still training
Another player ravaged by injury, he was a fine stand-in when Lewis’ confidence had the gone off the edge of Everest, before being injured mid-celebration, in a moment that could only be described as “Peak Banter Years.” Hopefully, he can get back to full fitness and get a club, maybe even get a contract with us again. I certainly wouldn’t complain.
Thomas Scobbie – Centre Back – on Loan to Brechin City
What a fucking disappointment. Brechin fans I’m so sorry.
After being at both the Greenock Morton and the St. Mirren game, it’s blatantly obvious just how much the new signings have improved the team. Our defence is better, our midfield is better, our attack, everything looks better. Also, the players who have survived the arrival and stayed in the first team like Safranko, Clark, Siegrist and Booth (and, somehow, Robson), have all stepped up and proved that they deserve to stay in the team. It’s probably stupid to be making this prediction, but I do genuinely think that United can go on and win the league with this team.