After 16 games, Dundee United are propping up the Scottish Premiership with a meagre eight points, having recorded only two wins so far.
Things aren’t looking good for a team who have been used to finishing towards the top end of the table in recent years. It wasn’t so long ago that the club qualified for the UEFA Europa league in three successive seasons. The way things stand, they are facing down into the mire of the second tier, with little hope of clawing their way back up it seems. Is there any way they can turn things around?
At the time of writing Dundee United are 8/11 with Bet365 to finish bottom of the Scottish Premiership with Motherwell behind them in the Scottish football betting at 4/1. These odds suggest that their fate is already sealed, and it would take some form of a miracle for them to avoid the drop.
The problems began towards the end of last season when the club only managed to win three of their final 18 games. The poor run of form continued into this campaign and it wasn’t long before the fans were calling for manager Jackie McNamara’s head.
Some of the reasons United found themselves on this terrible run can be attributed to McNamara, but it didn’t help that the club decided to sell some of their best players in the January transfer window. Supporters should be happy about the relative success McNamara brought to the club up until this poor spell.
The new manager, Mixu Paatelainen, believes that his side have a strong chance of fending off relegation and is preparing for what is set to be one of the most challenging survival attempts in the league’s history. Some pundits are already saying that if he managed to pull off Premiership survival it would be nothing short of miraculous.
But let’s not forget that the season is not yet past the halfway mark. There are still another 22 matches yet to play. One thing that fans can take some solace in is the fact that the club have appointed a new manager at a time when he has a chance to instil some of his own philosophy into the team. And this is a man who knows what he is doing in this league. Mixu can boast on his CV that he got Hibernian into the top six twice in a row, and won manager of the year at Kilmarnock in 2010/11.
There is also the January transfer window to take into account. If United can make some decent signings during that time to strengthen in the areas in which they have lacked this season, then things might start to look differently by February. Some reinforcements for their leaky defence and an out-and-out striker would be a good place to start.
Dundee United fans will be biting their nails, too scared to look. But for the neutrals this year’s relegation battle will be a fiercely exciting contest and not one to be missed.