Houston praises United players despite European exit

Peter Houston
Houston's side crashed out despite going 2-0 up in the opening five minutes

Dundee United manager Peter Houston praised his players despite their early exit from European competion at the hands of Slask Wroclaw.

United lost on away goals after their 3-2 win levelled the tie at 3-3 on aggregate.

Houston said both his players and the 11,000 fans in attendance at Tannadice were "magnificent".

"If I get the same effort through the SPL season we'll be back in Europe next season," he said.

"It's another glorious failure, but I couldn't ask any more of the players."

United started positively, going 2-0 up within five minutes thanks to goals from Keith Watson and David Goodwillie and Jon Daly scored the hosts' third from the penalty spot after Rok Elsner headed one back for Slask.

But Sebastian Dudek's superb second-half strike carried the Polish side threw to the next round.

"We started off in a fabulous manner and got two goals back very quickly," Houston said afterwards.

"I thought we were very unlucky. The players were magnificent tonight and the crowd got behind us."

And the United boss had special praise for summer signing Gary MacKay-Steven, one of several young players Houston will have to utilise druing the new season.

"He's a talent," said the Tannadice manager. "He's very good at taking it past people and his crosses are normally pinpoint.

"Daly and Goodwillie will score goals off him."

Almost 2,000 Polish fans made the journey to Dundee, creating as good an atmosphere as Houston can remember at Tannadice.

"I was screaming at the players but it was so loud they couldn't hear me shouting instructions," he said.

"We want those kind of European nights at Tannadice: it's just unfortunate that we're not going to have any more this season.

United must now regroup ahead of their Scottish Premier League opener against Kilmarnock on Sunday.

"I'm gutted," Houston said. "But there's a lot to look forward to.

"We've got a smaller squad this year and young players will need to develop quicker.

"But if we get our strongest team on the park we will be as good as anything outside the Old Firm."