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Crunch time at Tannadice

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Jim Spence | 16:37 UK time, Friday, 28 October 2011

Peter Houston's managerial position at Tannadice must be sorted out pronto.

The sensible solution is for the United boss to continue as manager.

Houston, who led United to a Scottish Cup win and has taken them to third and fourth place finishes in the Scottish Premier League, as well as into Europe, deserves a quick decision if change is to be made.

Dundee United chairman Stephen Thompson and manager Peter Houston

Thompson and Houston have some talking to do Pic: SNS

But what lies behind the rumours, that he is facing the sack?

Currently in 10th position in the SPL, ahead of tomorrow's game at Dunfermline, which could seal his fate, Houston is perfectly entitled to think that his team is well capable of improvement in the weeks ahead.

He has a talented young squad emerging, with a base of rock solid pros like Jon Daly, Sean Dillon, John Rankin, Willo Flood and the like, to help steady the ship.

So is the problem the relationship between the manager and the chairman, which at any club is the most crucial component for success?

How strong is the bond between Stephen Thompson and his manager?

That is the question many United fans are asking.

Even with the chairman on holiday in the USA, it seems bizarre that this situation has arisen and that it could not have been sorted out quickly over the phone.

Now with the United chairman's early return from the States, the scene is set for showdown talks this Sunday between the two men.

The outcome of those deliberations could have a major impact on United's season.

Replacing Houston would be expensive, £170,000 to be precise.

That is money which could be better spent on new players to strengthen the squad.

And there is no guarantee of success with a new boss.

This is undoubtedly the United chairman's biggest decision since replacing his late father, Eddie.

Unless the relationship between the two men is broken beyond repair, then both should work hard to ensure that what has been achieved in their time together is not squandered.

Both Houston and Thompson are relatively new in their chosen fields of management and chairmanship and perhaps what is required at Tannadice is a steady elder statesman to smooth out any misunderstandings between the pair.

Both men have a potentially bright future in the game, it would be a great pity if neither fulfilled that promise.


  • Comment number 1.

    A manager should be judged on results and how successful his signings have been, and both have been poor, he certainly doesn't have an eye for a player like Levein did. He's signed some proper duds in his time.

    We know what Flood is about but he's getting played out of position. He signed a winger (Mackay-Steven) but he doesn't play him, even though the team is crying out for some natural width & creativity! The CD area needs addressed now, Gunning & Kenneth just aren't hitting it off together. Pernis, Kenneth & Robertson need to be dropped, yet all three are apparently bullet-proof.

    Houston can moan all he wants about budget cuts, injuries and forced to play kids, but it's his poor tactics, negative formations, players in wrong positions and bizarre substitutions that are to blame for our demise this season.

    He bangs on about getting into Europe yet we were easily beaten at Tannadice against AEK & Slask when both were there for the taking. We went out because of Houston's pathetic tactics in both matches. Totally pointless qualifying and a major anti-climax. Levein would've won both those games.

    We lost the core of our cup winning team (players Houston didn't sign) in the Summer and to be fair, got very little back from the chairman to replace them. Any team would struggle losing Gomis, Conway, Goodwillie & Buaben, not to mention the squad players; Robertson, Kovacevic & Dods who all added depth and competition for places. If you don't replace that with similar quality then there's little chance of finishing 3rd. Most Arabs I know weren't expecting fireworks this season, but I think most expected better than the garbage we've had to endure so far this season.

    After Dunfermline on Saturday, we've got the OF, Hearts & Well. Even the most fervent of Arabs surely can't see us picking up anymore than 3 points from those games.

    Anyway, it's all irrelevant because Stephen Thompson cant afford the pay-off after stupidly giving him a 3 year contract!! So we're stuck with him for the time being...

  • Comment number 2.

    For United to sack Houston at this stage in the season would be utter madness. Perhaps there are things going on in the background that the general public are not aware of, but, and it has been said before, United were never going to be able to maintain the success of the past few seasons because when a player does well at a club like United, they will inevitably move on to bigger things. This season was always going to be one of transition, and some of the younger boys will really need to start fulfilling their potential. Its all very well questioning his lack of signings, but the fans have to accept....we are skint!

    But I, as a United fan, recall with dread the days of swapping managers every season, with the end result being the club flirting with relegation season after season.

    We need to have faith in Houston.

  • Comment number 3.

    Sorry but this just can't be the hottest issue in Scottish football right now Jim. No one cares except DUtd fans!!!

    I refer of course to the individual who wants to remain private and has a reputation for being secretive..but then buys a football club and goes in a big bad huffy with a broadcasting institution because they publish details on his past. Did this guy just pitch in from another planet? Loved the performance from AJohson and his cliched reference to 'No Surrender'. He must have been an extra from 'Braveheart'. And all defending the guy who just won't comment on anything at all now. You know the guy Jim. The financial genius who tucked into some 'succent lamb' boasting about his spending prowess while the ship was sinking. The one that Scottish journalists never criticised because most were in his pockets.

    The cracked crest may be coming to Ibrox very soon. Wonder what their new name will be?

    It'll probably stop the odd (and I really do mean that!!) paranoid Jambo banging on about about why Romanov was similarly targeted. Hearts are in a huff too. You can just imagine their faces when Tynecastle is sold, Romanov gets his cash and leaving them to play on the Meadows.

  • Comment number 4.

    @ Rob 04, I don't always want to read about Rangers and Celtic but we all have to put up with it don't we? Good on you Jim for remembering there are 12 clubs in the league

  • Comment number 5.

    Gougeaway84 has summed it up perfectly there. The Peter Houston that earned 3rd and won the Scottish Cup is long gone - his performance as a manager has been so completely different since the Summer of 2010 that those achievements are now irrelevant to his status as a manager.

    He has been getting so many things wrong since he won the cup and the sad thing is that they're so basic and obvious, yet he seems to be reluctant to change. It all started back at the AEK game, where pre-match he said he was going to play 4-4-2, however he ended up playing Goodwillie as a pseudo right-winger. Unfortunately, as he'd never played there he didn't have a clue how to perform in that role so all this did was nullify our biggest goal threat and leave us horribly exposed down the right side of our defence - it was no coincidence that's where AEK's goal came from.
    Ever since then, it's been pretty much the same story. Last season we had to endure watching Morgaro Gomis - one of the most talented central midfielders in Scotland play as a right-midfielder, where he was completely wasted. Again, all it achieved was stifling one of our best players and again left our poor right-back horribly exposed. With the form Hearts showed in the 2nd half of the season and with the squad Houston had available, only achieving 4th place was very much a failure on his part, as were the two pathetic cup exits to Motherwell, where he showed no desire to attempt to win the game.

    He's trotted out excuses about youth, however we were beaten by a First Division team with (I think) ten under-21 players in the squad. He's made excuses about budgets being cut, but what SPL manager hasn't had to suffer that this season? He's complained about individual errors but seems oblivious to his own failings - how he could possibly justify picking the same team to play against Falkirk that played against St. Johnstone is beyond me. That's why I feel he shouldn't be given any more time, he is completely oblivious to his own mistakes, and those wanting him to be given more time to turn it around are wanting the impossible - as the manager clearly doesn't believe there is a problem that he needs to turn around. I can only hope he is sacked after the Dunfermline game, no matter the result. Just a shame it's happening now and not a year ago, when his many failings as a manager had become obvious. We wouldn't have been in this mess had we had someone competent for the last year, and I'd say we'd have done better in the various cup competitions over that time as well.

  • Comment number 6.

    I'm enjoying reading these comments from names I remember from the old 606 forum days...


    who would you suggest to replace PH?

  • Comment number 7.

    I agree a manager should be judged on results and signings; however when your hands are tied with signings then fans should be realistic.
    Summer 2010 players in Scott Severin . Out: Damian Casalinuovo, Francisco Sandaza and Jennison Myrie-Williams.
    Summer 2011 Ins: Willo Flood, John Rankin, Gary McKay-Steven, Gavin Gunning, Lauri Dalla Valle. Outs: David Robertson, Darren Dods, Morgaro Gomis, Craig Conway, Prince Buaben, David Goodwillie, Danny Cadamarteri, Kova
    My point is if you look at United since Levein left, there has been a trend going on, budget cuts, players out and less quality in, why? Because we have no money and the bank is turning the screw. You think Peters signings have been poor, can you tell me which ones. If Peter had two pennies to rub together then we would have had better players but the players he has signed are about the best we can afford.
    PH turned us around when CL left and he will do it again. In my opinion Thompson should come out before the Dunfermline game and tell everyone PH job is the safest in the SPL, this would give the players the boast of confidence that is required. Jim it is great news to hear the sum to be paid is £170k, this will disappoint the boo boys, as United cannot afford it.

  • Comment number 8.

    And when was the last blog you read on either Dunfermilne, St Mirren, St Johnstone, Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts, Motherwell, Killie or ICT Calum??

    Please feel free to remind yourself this time that there are 12 teams in the SPL. Anytime you like.

    In the last 10 blogs three have been about DUtd. I generally like Jim's blogs but come on Calum don't lets kid ourselves that this is a bigger and more topical story than the one developing at the club (formerly known?) as Rangers FC.

  • Comment number 9.

    Jim is a United fan and has took time out to write a blog on what is going on with United. Maybe other pundits shoud do it for other teams.

  • Comment number 10.

    Also at 8

    Rangers dont speak to the BBC so why should the BBC take time out to write about them?

  • Comment number 11.

    A difficult situation at Tannadice, I support Utd but no longer am a season ticket holder picking games carefully now due to family commitments and the impact generally on the pocket - or value for money if you like.

    We have to look at a few of the key factors when assessing the manager's situation - tactics & training, man management, motivation, squad of players & budget

    Tactics & Training - Well if we are to believe the numerous press reports for the last month or so the players are training harder than ever and are giving 100%, surely this begs the question then are the training methods reflecting the tactics played on a Saturday and if so what needs to change the training or tactics? From the games I have seen it would be tactics - playing too defensively (not playing to our strengths!), players regularly out of position and poor substitution choices.

    Man Management - difficult for the fans to gauge, unless your a club insider you can't know the full ins and outs of the respect and authority that PH gets. The Scott Allan episode I thought showed strength of character by PH, but my gut feeling is PH for all his coaching career has always been an Assistant up until Utd. This can bring with it too much loyalty "old pals act" with the players as they can relate easily to him but how much do they fear the consequences of repeated poor performance? Sometimes in any profession you need the gap between workers and managers.

    Motivation - I don't see PH as a motivator in the same way as someone like say Butcher (from a passion perspective) I can only give opinion like most fans as opposed to facts as I've never played for PH!

    Squad - This is quite scary...
    Players turned over ( signed during PH's tenure then released/free'd)
    Mihjudks, Fotheringham (nc terms) Cadamarteri, Casalinouvo

    Players lost (already at club) - Goodwillie, Shala, Wilkie, Gomis, Buaben, Dods, Conway, Kovacevic, D Robertson, Sandaza, Kev Smith, JMW, Webster(loan) and the McCords.

    Players signed by PH to replace - Flood, Rankin, Vd Muelen, Severin, Mentel, Douglas, Gunning & GMS & Dalla Valle (loan)

    Any manager sustaining that quality of player loss and sqaud depth competition for players is gonna struggle 18 lost replaced by 9 doesn't not add up which brings me on to my final point.

    Budget - Yes we have to cut our cloth accordingly but it does not take a genius to work out that the wage bill has to have slashed enormously from the above assessment, now couple this with Utd receiving £2m or so from Goodie's sale and the fact that both pre seasons the players were released in June and the replacements were brought in late July ( i.e 2 months of bare bones squad recieving wages x 2)
    Utd have made quite a saving - I appreciate we have reduced the overall debt.

    Conclusion - I'm not a big fan of PH , but given the restraints and restrictions he has placed on him it's maybe not PH but the United board we should be pointing the finger at - personally if we are going to spend £170k as Jim states on severance pay I would rather they brought in 2 players on £1000 a week for 18month year deals!

  • Comment number 12.

    What other Scottish pundits run blogs on the Beeb? Answers on a postcard...

  • Comment number 13.


    Chic Young and I am sure the bbc would allow others. Roebuckio great analysis. One I would totally agree with.

  • Comment number 14.

    You mean they should go in a mutual huff? How odd a policy would that be for a public broadcaster?

  • Comment number 15.

    What a good suggestion. Well I'll leave you to check out with the BBC on the number of interactive Scottish blogs they will run.

    Just let us all know how you get on.

  • Comment number 16.

    @ Rob04 I'm not going to rise to the debate, then this blog would become about Rangers like all the other media out there.

  • Comment number 17.

    Rob seriously I do not care about other blogs and like anything on the Bbc it does not matter what is written or what team it is written about, there is always someone who tries to change the subject to Celtic and Rangers.

  • Comment number 18.

    I'm not asking you to comment on my posts Calum, you can comment on DUtd if you choose to do so. You don't have to police my posts.

  • Comment number 19.

    This is a hard one to call. On the one hand, it is hard to refute what Gaugeaway says. There are also whispers from the inside that PH is not the best at tactics, match preparation and so on. It may be that some players left because they did not see themselves developing under his guidance-I know that this rumour has been put forward to explain certain departures-though of course by no means all-money always talks.

    Is there a sense that PH did a good job for a while on Levein's coat tails, but that with the passage of time and in the face of financial constraint too, he is a bit out his depth?

    In his defence, and this is important to remember, PH repeatedly said he did not want the job when he was caretaker, and it was results and the support of most arabs that persuaded the Chariman otherwise. To an extent PH was actually pressured into the job.

    I think that there is no doubt that PH is 100% committed, a good guy and a solid football man. Whether he is qualified to take United forward I am not so sure. But like others say, who would come on PH's salary (with 170k already gone) and do better?

  • Comment number 20.

    I know that you don't care about other posts Kova and I would agree with you that the OF always attract comment irrespective of the topic. Personally, I think blogs should be topical and it is a huge story, which I will comment on even if no one else does. But I doubt it very much.

    DUtd? I like Houston and Utd: they won't cut him loose because of the finances and he's struggled to replace squad depth and the quality/ strength in the centre of the park. The Arabs don't seem to suffer the expectations hangover of other clubs like Aberdeen. The players that left were all big misses for you. Give him until the end of the season and things should have turned.

  • Comment number 21.

    Rob the problem that United face is there is a lot of fans calling for his head and the boo boys are out. United had the heart of the team ripped out of them and with restricted budget not enough quality brought in. The players that have come in will need to adapt. People say tactics are the problem, this season I have seen United go for it and been ripped apart and when they hold back we draw, PH will find the balance and these players will settle. Against Falkirk we created over 30 opportunities, if confidence was high we would be looking forward to the semis and PH would not be under threat. Booing the team never helps and Arabs should remember UNITED WE STAND!!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    @ Kova Well said, letting Houston go isn't the right answer. Our midfield has completely changed and we lost our top goalscorer, once the boys get some confidence back we will climb the table

  • Comment number 23.

    Calum that is what I think and for that I do not understand the panic. ST should have come out today and said his job is safe. That would put an end to this. Then we could all look at the important aspect climbing the table.

  • Comment number 24.

    As I understand it you are still about £4-5m in debt and with finances just now you really don't want to do an 'Aberdeen' and spend dosh on managers that would be better spent on players (esp in central defence/ midfield). You need a season of settling the team in and building. Far too soon to be talking about changing managers.

  • Comment number 25.

    Rob that is it! Under Eddie we wasted millions on managers of which was his own money. PH is a manager who has sustained a top 6 finish done well in the cups including winning one. Why should we sack him?

  • Comment number 26.

    @The Arab - I don't want it to be anyone with "SPL experience" - as folk that fit that bill include Calderwood, McGhee and Jeffries, and I'd rather chance my luck with Houston than have one of those three. We need someone that hasn't been corrupted by the whole negativity surrounding Scottish football at the moment. If it's possible, I'd like the O'Neill guy at Shamrock, or failing that go for Pat Fenlon again.

    @Kova - I don't see why people should be dismissed as "boo boys" for seeing Houston's faults. When exactly have we "gone for it" this season? The only game I can think of where the team has actually been set up to win the game was against Slask in the second leg, and we raced into a 2-0 lead then a 3-1 lead, before Houston demanded that the players then sat on the edge of the box and waited for the inevetable goal. Every other game, we've been set up to lose the game. Playing 1 striker and 1 creative midfielder, or the more recent tactic of 2 strikers and absolutely no creative midfielders. If having the heart ripped out of the team was the problem, then that'd be fine, but it hasn't. We've got two good central midfielders in Flood & Rankin to replace Buaben & Gomis, an exciting young winger in Mackay-Steven to replace Conway and the up-and coming Russell to replace Goodwillie. However, Flood has been played out of position, Russell is often only a substitute and Mackay-Steven has barely had a chance. It's most certainly Houston's fault, it's just kidding yourself if you think otherwise.

  • Comment number 27.

    It is like tying his hands, in terms of what he can do on the park and then when things go wrong rather than let him free, we decide to tie a bolder to his ankles and chuck him in the river Tay! What has football come too?

  • Comment number 28.

    Drunken it is good to hear from you again. Couple of points is Flood and Rankin as good as Gomis and Buaben? Have they played together often enough to form a partnership? an exciting young winger in Mackay-Steven I do agree with, however he was brought in to replace Conway, is he as good as Conway? Russell to replace Goodwillie, is Russell as good as Goodie? Drunken given time who knows and good players but right now none of them are even close to what we had. The term Rome was not built in a day springs to mind.

  • Comment number 29.

    Drunken another point, you mentioned 3 players PH signed on a limited budget and you think they are all good players and rightly so. Maybe he is not doing a bad job after all.

  • Comment number 30.

    The players signed aren't as good as the ones they replaced, however Flood and Rankin are very good replacements for Buaben & Gomis. Mackay-Steven will need a bit of time to get anywhere near Conway's level, as will Russell, however he's not even giving them the option. He'd rather play Flood out wide, which he can't do, Russell out wide, which he can't do and Douglas instead of Mackay-Steven. Douglas has shown very little in the way of capabilities of a left-midfielder, so I really can't see why he's ahead of Mackay-Steven, I think he's just another one of Houston's favourites.

    So Houston's recent signings have been pretty good, however the way he uses them completely negates that. It's like buying a lovely fillet steak and then burning it - the whole thing ends up pointless.

    All ex-606ers should come over to JA606, it's actually working now! A few already have come over.

  • Comment number 31.

    I dont think we should be sacking Houston,but he has to decide if he wants to be the Dundee United manager or Scotland assistant he cant do both.When we went one up against Falkirk he panicked and pulled everyone behind the ball inviting them to attack us ,something we are unable to do.This is typical Scotland tactics.

  • Comment number 32.

    Drunken like most football fans I stand on the terraces or to be PC I sit and I think I am an expert, the bottom line is I do not take training; I do not pick the team. Maybe just maybe PH knows enough about his players and see what they can do or what they do do on the training field to know what is best. Just a thought. Never chuck young players in the fire, if it does not work out you set them back years. Jimmy used to get played out wide!

  • Comment number 33.

    Well said, Jim Spence.

    The reality for Arabs is that until our debt has been paid off, remaining as an SPL club should probably be considered as a success. I am under no illusions about the fact that Houston's teams have not done as well as they should have and could have done over the past 18 months, in part because of questionable choices for formations, starting XI and tactics. he's never been forced to change before because we've still won more than we've lost, and it's a results game. But now he really is being found out - and he deserves the opportunity to make the necessary changes and turn things around. This team is, I think, good enough to finish somewhere between 5th and 8th and I believe that Houston knows enough about the game to make the changes that will allow us to achieve that.

    Not only can we not afford to waste money on another managerial pay-off, but I wouldn't want a new manager coming in when we have no idea what the alleged "behind the scenes" disagreements are that are being suggested to have brought things to a head. If, for example, the Chairman is behaving unreasonably, how will sacking Houston and bringing in someone new improve things?

    Stephen - stick with Houston, give him some public backing, be true to your word about that backing, but privately tell him he needs to make some changes to how things are being done.

  • Comment number 34.

    I agree with a lot you say until the end. Why should a chairman/businessman get involved with what is going on? why should he say change things? PH is doing fine on his own, if ST can tell him things should change then maybe ST should become manager. ST has went on record as saying he wants United out of debt and then and only then will he sell. That is his plan, to get back some of the money his dad invested. He is not a United man he is not a football man, he is quite simply a business man. I have no issue with this as my club will be out of debt and by then maybe the next ET will surface and take my club further.

    ST give PH backing, go ahead with your plans and keep your nose out of the team on the park. Or for the first time in your family’s history you and your board will be under pressure. United we stand!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    i think it is fairly obvious dundee utd are going through a rebuilding process. houston won the cup and has had good league finishings. i think this is the first time that houston has built a team as before it was inherited in part. but he's still bulding/rebuilding. you have to give him till next season at least, finances seem to dictate so anyway. dundee utd will not get relegated in my oppinion. if houston is in the same position this time next year then think about it.

  • Comment number 36.

    I think the changes referred to by most above do not coincide with PH becoming the manager, however, they tie into the passing of Eddie Thompson. Eddie was a true fan, his investment came from the heart which allowed Craig Levein to buy more and superior players to the ones we previously had. Stephen on the other hand is a business man, is now refusing to bankroll the losses at Tannadice and no longer wants to use his own money to push the club foward. I think Housty is doing the best he can with limited resources and injuries ( Severin, Swanson, Dillon et al ) and should remain. The only way for United to improve is for a new investor ( look what is happening at Rangers ! ), bigger crowds ? 29,000 in May 2010, 4,000 on Tuesday night ??? Maybe we as Arabs need to invest more time and money in the club to get us out of this mess ?

  • Comment number 37.

    @Kova (#34)

    "Why should a chairman/businessman get involved with what is going on?"

    ST is entitled to get involved because he's the boss and it's his money that's keeping things running. I see nothing at all wrong with ST saying to Houston "Regardless of the cutbacks, what you're currently doing is not working well enough. We should be doing better than 2 places from relegation and out of the cup to a team of Div. 1 teenagers. Fix it." What's actually done to fix it should be entirely up to Houston - agree with you on that, 100%.

    I agree ST is not a "football man" but he's been watching United as long as most of us have, and so he can see and hear the same things that we do. To say that he is not a United man is a bit harsh, when you look at it like that. Just because he's not willing to throw (his own) good money after bad, like Eddie was willing to do, does not make him any less of an Arab in my eyes.

  • Comment number 38.

    Do you know what gets up my nose with this board, it is not the cut backs as in the long run Dundee United will survive, I applaud the board for that, it is not the bad run of results, as I understand why. Even with being a football fan. It is the fact that fans boo like that helps and the fact that ST has cut his family holiday short to have crisis talks, sticking petrol in the fire of the media. Then we have the glorious Bennett, the same man that quit United for Dundee the week that the Thomson family had two bereavements. Yes United fans when ET died Bennett jumped ship to Dens. He was seen on the news with the United players but not once did he back PH. The board are cutting back and that is what the results are about, I agree with them but if they think they can use PH as the escape goat they better think again.

  • Comment number 39.

    Canadian what is wrong with him sitting down and knowing the plan of PH. As a businessmen I would have thought this would have happened. We got beat from a young enthusiastic side with no pressure. We had over 30 chances and on another day would have scored 6. This side need confidence they need time and the manager needs backing and the fans need to get behind PH and the team. There for the good times there for the bad times, it is a journey together.

  • Comment number 40.

    I am fed up of hearing all the pre-match talk from PH & the players.
    This is what we HAVE to do! & this HAS to be done etc!
    HAVE & HAS are rare words to sum our season so far!
    PH tactics & subs have been baffling at times this season & he s good at talking the talk. The midfield is unbalanced with a lack of creativity for all to see.
    PH says utd look great in training & are working very hard.
    Well Peter i swing a golf club like luke donald, until you put a ball in front of it.
    YES we,re in transition.YES we,ve lost quality players.YES we expected an average season after the last 3.Things dont seem right at tannadice these days.There seems to be a lack of togetherness.If this is not addressed immediately,the 6 away & 3 home games till the turn of the year could be disastrous.
    Falkirk beat us with Bairns on the park,and looking at Stuart Armstrongs performance after coming on as a sub,he has to be starter tmor.
    Ryan Dow is another who should get a run.
    Scotland is another matter,but there is a credibility issue now regarding CL decision to let PH miss out the Cyprus game.What kind of message does that send out to all players,if the manager relieves his no 2.
    The situation utd are in,PH should quit as scotland no 2 & concentrate solely on getting utd up the table.

  • Comment number 41.

    If the papers are right Scotland no.2 will be his only job. If we were in the top 6 no one would be saying it is because of that. We need cut backs results will suffer but if the board and the fans realise this we can still have a great season with the kids. Am I the only United fan that sees this?

  • Comment number 42.

    If the papers are right Scotland no.2 will be his only job. If we were in the top 6 no one would be saying it. We need cut backs and because of that results will suffer and if the board and the fans realise this, then can still have a great season with the kids. Am I the only United fan that sees this?

    Please ignor 41

  • Comment number 43.

    #42 IF is like HAVE & HAS.IF utd were in the top 6 then the comments coming from players still within the club about poor training methods etc etc(,should not be ignored), would not be taken so seriously. I agree we should all stick together & get behind the team.The amount of clowns i fell out with on tue booing john daly cos of there ignorance of the game, beggard belief.

  • Comment number 44.

    @Kova (#39)

    Don't understand your point mate. First you said that ST should keep his nose out completely. I then said I had no problem with him saying privately to PH that things need to improve, but at the same time giving him 100% honest public support (i.e. I do NOT think he should be sacked). Now you're asking what's wrong with ST knowing PH's plan? I don't think there's anything wrong with that - in fact, I'd think there was something wrong if he didn't. If I was putting my own money into a venture that I was allowing somebody else (an "expert") to run for me, I'd still want to know exactly how my money was going to be used.

    I think we're on the same page here - I am in general agreement with the points you're making, including in post #42.

  • Comment number 45.

    Canadian what don’t you understand? I agree we are singing off the same sheet, the only difference is that ST RIGHTLY is causing these results with cut backs, he should expect a turbulent ride as should United fans. He has no right to say what is going on change it, as if he stupidly gave money to PH the results would be better. Dundee United cannot spend money as we cannot afford to do so. So results will be indifferent.

  • Comment number 46.

    At arab.

    Have you heard these coments? or are you reading the star, sun or record? Comon mate people have to wirte something to earn money.

  • Comment number 47.

    Kova - go back to the second post I made:
    "Regardless of the cutbacks, what you're currently doing is not working well enough."
    Also, my first post:
    "The reality for Arabs is that until our debt has been paid off, remaining as an SPL club should probably be considered as a success."

    I understand completely that the cutbacks are absolutely necessary. I also understand that the team is not going to do as well for the next 2 or 3 years as a direct result of these cutbacks. Arabs need to accept that.

    But what I am also saying is that regardless of cutbacks, the squad of players that PH has at his disposal should be doing better than we currently are. We're unlikely to be pushing for top 3 or 4, but neither should we be scraping the foot of the table. The players can do better and Houston can do better. I'm sure Houston knows that, and I would have no problem with ST saying that to Houston, because he's the boss and it's his money. And after ST has said that to Houston, he should back him and give him the chance to improve things on the pitch. Hopefully you're not trying to make the point that the current level of play at Tannadice, as well as the results, are the best we can do?

  • Comment number 48.

    Canadian what I am saying is ST should be saying HOUSTON WE DONT HAVE A PROBLEM. I believe our current league position is nothing and it is a result of less quality players but good players needing time to gel. That is all it is but if Arabs and a board belive that it is PH fault then I think they need to get a grip. That is my only point. PH brought good people to United and these Good people may go on to become better than what we had. As I said before Rome was not built in one day. So therefore not PH fault.

  • Comment number 49.

    Tomorrow people will be worried about their jobs and as a result of that we might draw or get beat and this could have been avoided by a simple conference call to the media saying I back my manager and the fans sign for the team.

  • Comment number 50.

    Kova - I'll disagree with you on some of that. I think the players that we now have could be used more effectively than they have been, and therefore that our results could have been a bit better (but recognising that (1) we're still going to be weaker than we were last year and (2) that we do still need time to gel as a team). I think we do have a problem, but (1) it's not an unexpected problem and (2) it's not as big a problem as some folk are making out. But the media and messageboards have managed to blow this thing out of all proportion. The team being weaker is not PH's fault, but the players not being used as effectively as they could be is most definitely PH's fault. But at this point, IMO, that is definitely not a sackable offence. PH and the team still need time, and they also need the support of the fans. Booing the players will achieve nothing.

  • Comment number 51.

    Canadian can I ask the players not being used effectively do you have your coaching badges do you watch these players in training? I don’t therefore how can any of us say otherwise? We can look for gaps and problems and say this could have changed it and that could have and I would agree in some circumstances it would work but managers get paid to do so and they will make the odd mistake but if others are doing so why are they not managers? it is a good salary!!!

  • Comment number 52.

    PH will not be sacked as we do not have the money to do so. ST should have done the right thing and not put fuel on the fire, instead he will come back and give and protect his image. As I said before not a United man.

  • Comment number 53.

    As interested outsider looking in, I can only feel for DUFC fans as to say won a cup (something NUFC fans havn't seen in ages) and to feel as if you've reaped no benefit from it is simply annoying - especially as it raises player profile, for them to be sold (Goodwillie) and then not get any cases back or say

  • Comment number 54.

    Great discussion so far.

    I'm not a Dundee United fan (I support the soon-to-be extinct Rangers), but their decline in quality has been fairly marked in the past year or so. Peter Houston is caught in a vice; Dundee United had a great team under Levein, but it was a team that was subsidised by the Thompson family; United were living beyond their means. Peter Houston has been given the entirely unenviable task of maintaining quality whilst having the budget slashed in significant real terms. Can you do more (or even the same) with less? Would anybody else do better and would they want the job?

    I think Peter Houston should be given time; he's taken United to good finishes in the SPL, as well as winning the Scottish Cup. What is glaringly obvious is the need to find a settled team where players play in the positions they play best; United's best performance this season was the first half against Slask; United had a team out to attack and that's where they're at their best.

    I feel that the media have a lot to answer for here; if Peter Houston is sacked, they'll bleat on about how it's too soon and what a good guy he is, conveniently forgetting that their s*** stirring led to a very public fall out between Peter Houston and Steven Thompson.

  • Comment number 55.

    Peter Houston could win every competition he has us in and the same people would be on here moaning. He's on a hiding to nothing. I think he's a decent SPL standard manager - nothing special but for a club of United's size with the operating budget we have he's a good fit.

    Houston inherited a good squad from Levein. Apparently this means he is a nothing manager. Anything good he has achieved (eg our 4th major trophy in 100+ years or finishing 3rd and 4th) wasn't really down to him at all and can be dismissed. Yet things that are outwith his control like being told to cut the squad size and being unable to offer improved terms to players who have performed well for us are his fault?

    We are watching a side that has declined in quality because the number and quality of players that we have at Tannadice has rapidly declined. Has Houston been pounding on the chairmans door asking him to get rid of these players? Hardly. One man is largely behind this exodus. Apart from the Goodwillie transfer (of which the squad hasn't seen a penny) how exactly has our chairman handled himself in the transfer market? What rating out of 10 would the chairman get for the job he's done for DUFC compared to the job Houston has done for DUFC as a manager?

    If we are going to shrug our shoulders and say the chairman is operating in difficult financial times and has to cut his cloth accordingly then thats fine. The same applies for Houston too or your a hypocrite. The worst thing is had we worked harder to keep some of those players that walked on a free (there's been plenty btw) just look at the OF clubs. We could easily have been right up there in the mix with them - rather than flirting with relegation. Again that lack of ambition is coming from somewhere other than the dug out.

  • Comment number 56.

    #46 kova

    Was that one for me???
    If it was, i dont have to read any of these papers to know what i,m talking about.
    I,m hardly gonna say who i talk to on here either.One things for sure it wiznae fae someone that kens someone.Todays result brings a bit of breathing space. There is much hard work and better organising of the team to be done for this to continue.Kova i dont have my coaching badges,but have played,managed(albeit a lower level) and watched the game for 45years.
    I did not make the game but it was nice to see Ryan Dow who i mentioned earlier get a start.The silence from ST has not helped this week.He could have been on mars and still been able to get a message through backing his manager.Or will tmor tell us something different.
    P.S. It shud have been 10 & 5 pounds on tue for the punters to get in.
    Falkirk had a quarter of a poor crowd for a home quarter final.Another couple of thousand home fans would surely have been able to afford to go.

  • Comment number 57.

    another stool sample from you jim. the perf sensible solution is for craig levein to be du manager. du r second only to hearts in thinking they r something.chips should be in a poke not on a shoulder. take a look at yourselves and that crazy nickname tells u everything thats wrong up there.

  • Comment number 58.


  • Comment number 59.

    To the nae-sayers amongst you Arabs.

    Be careful what you wish for. My own side are saddled with a manager that few are enthused about, but we are screaming out for some stability. We have a chairman who feels it is part and parcel of his role to become involved in team affairs. If Thompson feels he knows better than the manager then you are heading for trouble.

    Houston must be given time to improve results. He has been saddled with a budget that would have made Levein weep. Let him try to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. That seems to be his job description handed down from Thompson.

    Delusions of grandeur seem to go hand in hand amongst SPL Chairmen. I hope that most level headed fans are more realistic. Given the budget Houston will do well if Utd. get top six. Thompson should recognise this. Will he ?

  • Comment number 60.

    51 Kova

    I'm like arabarber - no official coaching badges but played at a decent level and was also the coach/manager of several good amateur teams, including the top women's university team in England for 3 years. Some problems don't need a coaching badge to spot. Lumping high balls at John Daly (with no plan B) doesn't work. Using a shoehorn to get an extra central midfielder in when there isn't room for one, doesn't work. Playing with no natural wide midfielders in games where we should be doing a lot of attacking doesn't work. Persisting with players who clearly need a break because they're off form, they're injured or they have lost all confidence, doesn't work. Today, PH made changes that addressed most of those points, and we've come away with an excellent 4-1 win on the back of a good performance. I'm delighted for the team and I'm delighted for Houston. I hope it's now clear to ST that Houston must be given public support and must be allowed to get on with the job. And I hope PH doesn't revert next week to the line-up and tactics that got us into this mess in the first place.

  • Comment number 61.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 62.

    @61 exactly blog something interesting jim. this is like the dried prunes u ob had for the breakfast u talk about

  • Comment number 63.

    Surely Jim is using a specific example to show a wider problem - owners and boardrooms who don't question their own failings, only those of the manager.
    The list is endless in the Premier League - with Aberdeen being the biggest sinners.

  • Comment number 64.

    63 agreed but cant believe jim was thinking that widely otherwise he would have mentioned it, well maybe not. sack the board league table- 1.aberdeen 2. hearts 3.du 4. rangers (prev board) 5. celtic 6.hibs 7. killie 8. dunfermline 9. ict 10. st johnstone 11. st mirren 12 . motherwell. NOW U GOTTA BLOG JIM!!!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    I think what has happened in the last couple of seasons at United highlights all that is wrong with Scottish football at the moment. Winning the cup and finishing 3rd is ultimately such a pyrrhic victory that you begin to wonder - what's the point?

    Don't get me wrong - the cup final was one of the best days of my life, and something I'll remember fondly till the day I day, but ultimately what did it change? Nothing. Finishing 3rd and winning the cup is the BEST season United can EVER have in the current set up.

    And what does that give you to build on? Nothing. In fact it just makes it inevitable that your best players will depart, many for no transfer fee under freedom of contract and to mediocre Championship / Old Firm sides. Any transfer fees we do manage to recoup merely goes against our debt. This would be the same for any non-OF team in Scotland.

    Qualifying for Europe? Why bother? You don't make any money playing in the rounds at which we enter (in fact I'm sure ST stated that United actually lost money when we played AEK), and we invariably get humped by very average sides - AEK looked decent at Tannadice, but Slask were below mediocre.

    And this, for me, is the crux of why crowds are down across the board. Most Scottish teams will never get anything more than a fleeting, and ultimately futile shot at anything approaching tangible success. If they do manage to achieve this all it leads to is one round of European football and the dismantling of their team at a fraction of their true value. I know you have to support your team through good times and bad, and I do. And I suppose the fact that success is so rare and fleeting makes it that much sweeter at the time. Doesn't make it any less depressing 6 months down the line when your paper thin squad, shorn of any genuine quality it may have once possessed, is limping to draws and defeats against the rest of the SPL flotsam and jetsam though.

  • Comment number 66.

    Jim is just voicing his opinion on the situation at Tannadice and playing peacemaker.

    The blame cycle: directors who blame managers, managers who blame players, players who blame other players, other players who blame managers, managers who blame boards. And fans who blame them all.

  • Comment number 67.

    I was going to add to my post that wasn't completed on submission - DUFC get into Europe or win a Cup and get nothing from it other than more of the same. But without wanting to go into a "save Scottish football" rant again I think clubs certainly have to think about how to cut their cloth accordingly - share grounds being one idea.

  • Comment number 68.

    Surely St Mirren would be before St Johnstone - they chopped Gus didn't they - St Johnstone just lose their managers to bigger teams.

    Got to agree - answers on a postcard for how to change things.

  • Comment number 69.

    Well the tenth beetle,that goes for the whole of scottish football inc your team.Check-out the empty seats at every ground inc OF.A poor product overpriced & until the amatuers who run the game are out,the slow death will continue.
    Utd have about 5,000 supporters not fans, who buy season tcts.This has been our hard core for many years through thick & thin.More than can be said for some bigger clubs, whose supporters dissapear like sna aff a dyke, if they have a barren couple of seasons.Having chosen not to renew my season tct this season,that makes me a fan for the time being.I will pick my games as many do now for obvious reasons.

  • Comment number 70.

    Agree with what you say Jim but surely the ‘sensible thing’ would be not to have allowed such speculation in first place. Funny that it came out when ST was on holiday wouldn’t you say?

    Just when I think he is shaping up as Chairman something always comes along to blow his Street Cred and I have to wonder if he is really cut out for the task.

    When leaks like this emerge, you can bet your life that someone somewhere on the board thinks the same.

    Tongues have been wagging and ST can’t keep the lid on things which suggests no elder statesman on the horizon.

    Something is far from right in the United Boardroom, if you ask me, let alone the Chairman/Manager situation.

    If this isn’t sorted out, and soon! - then relegation for United will be ST’s legacy, and no one else’s.

  • Comment number 71.

    ST earns a 6 figure salary as chaiman of the club.
    He certainly did not earn his corn this week.
    He,s been the ringleader of the circus that was tannadice this week.
    Why has it taken till today to back his manager???
    Hate to think he was waiting on sat result to decide on houston.
    ET never wasted any time in making a decision he thought was right for the club.
    ST,s dithering this wk only adds more fuel to what we already know about him.
    The tounges will allways wag in football.They,re highlighted more so when a team is struggling.Hopefully saturdays change in personel & positions will show houston where he,s been wrong, and we can build from it.


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