“Football is a funny game.”
Those were the words from Dundee United manager when asked about his time at Tannadice so far.
A struggling Dundee United side has so far beaten Rangers, Kilmarnock & Saint Mirren at Tannadice and was unlucky against Dunfermline at East End Park.
Levein, speaking to the Sunday Express, summarised his short career at Tannadice by reflecting on his relationship with the current Chairman Eddie Thompson and how he thinks things have progressed since he joined the club at the start of November.
‘My perception before I came was that I was inheriting a team that had good players but in reality hadn’t performed to the level of expectations you would have had for them,’ he told the Sunday Express.
‘I’ve seen a definite improvement in the training in the last couple of weeks and have been pleasantly surprised by a number of the players.’
‘When you work with players on a day-to-day basis you get an idea of exactly what capabilities they have and the situation is better than I thought.’
Left-back Christian Kalvenes was in agreement with the managers assessment, speaking last week he said ‘What I experienced here was that when the new manager came in everyone started even again, so we all have to prove ourselves to him.’
‘The quality and tempo of training got much better straight away and we have managed to take that into matches.’
The Norwegian continued, ‘If you can up your work rate like that and continue it on a Saturday your performance will improve, in our last few games we have shown battling qualities and if we produce them again we can make it three (home) wins in a row.’
Striker Noel Hunt also agreed with Kalvenes, he said ‘We got a reality check when Craig Brewster left and we had a bit of a talk.’
‘The new gaffer has come, changed a few things and it is working for him. He certainly knows his stuff, he is a really strong character and everyone looks up to him.’
Ealier this week Levein announced his plan for United was to build from the back, and he has clearly carried that idea forward into his training sessions at Tannadice.
Hunt said ‘One of the things we have worked on is the defence and everyone is working hard to get clean sheets.’
Levein realises he still has much to learn about his new side, starting with why they have underperformed for much of the season so far.
‘I think there are players who have underachieved, and certainly the team as a whole has underachieved. I’ll have a better idea in a month about what I’ve got here.’ he said.
‘When I was at Hearts I knew my team so well that I was able to say how we would perform with a degree of certainty, but it takes time to get to that stage with a team and I’m not near that yet with these players.’
Although, he’s been impressed by some of the United youth players who are on the fringes of the 1st team squad, specifically 17-year-old David Goodwillie, who has received some very positive press after his impressive performances in recent weeks.
‘I’m quite pleased with the younger players,’ said Levein.
‘David (Goodwillie) is close enough to the first team to be there or thereabouts and he’s also doing okay in training.’
With rumors of several new signings to come in January, Goodwillie has been told by Levein that he wont be instantly dropped down the pecking order by the arrival of a new attacker – which must come as some relief for the Under-19 International.
However, none of the current squad can relax just yet, as the manager decides on the futures of each of them and considers who still has a future at Dundee United.
Levein: Football’s A Funny Game
“Football is a funny game.”