(Written by Tactful Sheik)
Finally, at last, about time, eventually, after all that….Dundee United supporters can now breath a sigh of relief, as another disappointing season comes to an end.
Just like so many that have gone before, the 2006/07 season kicked-off full of promise, with Arabs expecting manager Craig Brewster to lead the club onto bigger and better things.
It took Dundee United slightly over quarter of an hour to kick start the club`s campaign, with captain Barry Robson`s 17th minute strike giving United a 1-0 lead at Tannadice, over John Hughes`s Falkirk.
Although, defending is an art that many managers have struggled to teach a mistake-prone United backline and 5minutes later is was 1-1, after Russell Latapy came back to haunt us with a 22nd minute equalizer.
The only thing worse than starting a season with a defeat, is to start the season to a defeat after being in the lead early in the game – it can leave supporters feeling dejected, as all the pre-season hype ends in an anti-climax.
However, Dundee United supporters were left feeling dejected, after Falkirk took all 3 points back to the Falkirk Stadium courtesy of Liam Craig`s 59th minute winner.
The following week, Dundee United lead 2-0 over Rangers at Ibrox with only half-an-hour remaining, but once again failed to retain their lead and a calamitous Steven Robb own goal in the 76th minute meant the match ended in a 2-2 draw.
It wasn`t until the 5th league match of the season that Dundee United managed their first SPL victory, with a 3-1 victory over St Mirren at Love Street, which boost speculation that the Paisley were favourites for relegation.
Not that Dundee United were ever really safe from the dreaded drop, not until around January, and only thanks to the efforts of new manager Craig Levein.
With Chairman Eddie Thompson concerned about the club`s finances, and pressure from some fans and the media, a decision was taken at the end of October that Craig Brewster`s managerial career at Tannadice was at an end.
After being knocked out of the League Cup 3-0 by 1st division St Johnstone, following by a 4-0 defeat by Hearts, a 4-1 loss to Celtic and 3-1 defeat by Aberdeen – it looked like Craig Brewster`s future would rest on the performance and result from a match against the same side that comeback on the opening match of the campaign.
On the 28th October 2006, Dundee United returned from Falkirk on the end of a humiliating 5-1 defeat – which included a hat trick for on-loan Arsenal striker Anthony Stokes.
Not surprisingly, soon after that result, Chairman Eddie Thompson announced that Craig Levein would be Craig Brewster`s successor as manager.
Levein`s influence was instantaneous and very dramatic, with a rare comeback in his first match incharge, after Garry Kenneth and Lee Mair sealed a late 2-1 victory over Paul Le Guen`s Rangers at Tannadice.
This was followed up by home wins over Kilmarnock (1-0), St Mirren (1-0) and Caley Thistle (3-1), though the away form was a little less encouraging after 2-1 defeats by both struggling Dunfermline and Hibernian.
Then, just as things looked to be improving, Falkirk turned up to spoil the party AGAIN, producing another humbling 5-1 performance to leave hungover Arabs wondering if they should have bothered dragging themselves out of bed on New Years day to watch 2007 start with another awful result.
That was followed by a 5-0 defeat in Walter Smith`s 1st match back incharge of Rangers, after both Smith and Ally McCoist replacement Paul Le Guen as the new management team at Ibrox.
Things were getting progressively worse, as s 1-0 defeat to Killie in the SPL, was followed by a 0-0 draw to Dunfermline and crashing out of the Scottish Cup 1-0 to Inverness Caley Thistle.
Craig Levein decided that enough was enough and started his summer clearout early, announcing that several of the 1st team squad were leaving because had lost their winning mentality.
Alan Archibald (Free to Partick Thistle), David Proctor (Still Looking) and David McCracken were all told to find new clubs, just before the January transfer window closed – but injuries to key players meant that Levein couldn`t risk letting McCracken go in January, just incase.
The recovery began against St Mirren on the 10th of February 2007, with captain Barry Robson`s solo strike giving Dundee United all 3 points.
New signings Jon Daly, Sean Dillon and Morgaro Gomis who joined the club in the summer, played some part in United squad over the following months.
Striker Jon Daly struggled to find the back of the net, but eventually struck late against Celtic in a 1-1 draw at Tannadice on the 31st March and followed it up with another against Aberdeen in the 4-2 win the week after.
Defender Sean Dillon has played in almost of all United`s defensive line-ups, whislt midfielder Gomis has only played a handful of matches in the centre of Craig Levein`s side.
With relegation looking unlikely a few months before the end of the campaign, there was still a chance that Dundee United could climb into the top 6 of the SPL, but despite encouraging wins over Aberdeen (4-2), Hearts (4-0) and the 1-1 draw against eventual champions Celtic – the squad looked like the couldn`t care less in the matches leading up to the split.
Dundee United end the season in a similar fashion to the miserable way it started, taking an embarrassing 2 points out of the final 5 games in the bottom 6 – which included convincing defeats to both struggling Dunfermline and St Mirren.
Now, with the 2006/07 season finally over, Dundee United supporters can start looking forward to the start of the 2007/08 season…..but are more likely to be exciting by the possibility of seeing some of Europe`s top players perform at Tannadice in pre-season friendly against Spanish giants Barcelona at the end of July.
Striker Collin Samuel, defenders David McCracken and Lee Mair, along with goalkeeper Derek Stillie are on their way out of Tannadice – and Jon Daly is out for a further 5-months through injury, so fresh faces are definitely required.
Craig Levein has promised there will be new acquisitions during the summer, with Caley Thistle defender Darren Dods already onboard and Polish keeper Lukasz Zaluska set to sign this week, but Eddie Thompson has promised there will be money made available for further signings..
The only question is whether Dundee United supporters will be left feeling disappointed this time next year, or whether Craig Levein can succeed where many previous managers have failed, by leading the club back up to the right end of the SPL table (and perhaps into Europe once again?)
Uniteds 06/07 Season Is Finally Over
(Written by Tactful Sheik)