If you’re a regular reader of The Terrace you’ll be familiar with my thoughts about how and why Dundee United have ended up relegated.
At least it’s over now though, and with a new manager at the helm and the prospect of a clear out of the dreadful playing staff there’s at least some scope to be positive.
But before I leave 2015/16 behind forever, I’ve been asked to write my yearly review of how the players performed over the course of the season.
Indeed, I was told “Maybe it’ll be cathartic?”.
Let’s hope so.
Now buckle up, because we’ve got a lot to get through.
Luis Zwick – 3/10
In pre-season, Jackie McNamara decided to give three young goalkeepers a chance to impress and stake a claim for the jersey for the season ahead. While none of them looked particularly adept, Zwick was clearly the best of them.
Though he blundered in the opening game of the season to gift Aberdeen their winning goal, fans gave him the benefit of the doubt; after all, he was young and was probably worth persevering with. But as he kept making little blunders here and there, patience wore thin.
Now fans think of him as someone who might be good enough in the future rather than as someone we’d be confident in playing now.
Mihael Szromnik – 1/10
“Oh what a save from Szromnik” was something you’d often hear on BBC Radio Scotland. Honestly, it was. But almost every save Szromnik ever made was as a result of him parrying the ball directly at the feet of an opposition forward or kicking the ball straight to them off a goal kick.
I want you to be under no illusions; Mihael Szromnik is the worst goalkeeper I have ever seen. Though he has decent reflexes, he can’t catch the ball, he can’t kick the ball, he has no command of his area and he doesn’t seem to be able to recognise which players are on his team.
It’s frankly incredible he’s under contract.
Eiji Kawashima – 5/10
Have you ever looked forward to something so much that when it finally arrives it turns out to be a disappointment? That’s how we all felt this season with Eiji Kawashima.
For two months, the debut of this former World Cup star was held back by red tape, and anticipation grew.
When he finally made his bow in the New Year Dundee Derby, the man who was supposed to shore up our leaking defence made an error that cost us a goal. Then he did the same thing against Celtic in the next league game. Awesome.
To be fair, he’s a decent keeper overall, and would probably be an asset in a team with a solid defence, but alas he just never lived up to the hype.
Sean Dillon – 2/10
Sean Dillon knows where the bodies are buried. That’s the only feasible explanation for why he was one of only five players spared the chop by Stephen Thompson.
Now sure, everyone thinks Dillon is a nice guy and that’s fine, but he’s also a lousy, washed up footballer whose defending can only be described as comical at the best of times. Pick the highlights of any game this season he’s played in and you’ll find that he’s either directly cost us a goal or has made an error that should have cost us a goal. It’s incredible, and not in a good way.
Dillon is also a poor leader, as shown by rarely being the captain on the pitch. Now maybe he does a lot of great work behind the scenes, but as a footballer, he’s an abomination.
Please, please go in the summer.
Mark Durnan – 3/10
By all accounts he was a good player for Queen of the South, but he’s been crap for us. I always thought one of the basics of defending was not to let ball bounce, but Durnan does this every time. His style of defending seems to be to stand back, let the opponent have as much time as he needs to control it, and then push him in the back.
Coll Donaldson – 4/10
There’s a good defender in there somewhere, but I don’t think anyone has managed to find him yet. The main problem is his decision making on the park, while his attitude is also questionable.
Of all the senior defenders on our books, he’s the only one I’d keep for next season.
Callum Morris – 2/10
If he was ever fit, he might be an asset, but alas he never is.
Against all odds, Morris has managed to get even slower as the season has gone on, and his final appearance – being sent off in Inverness for two needless yellow cards – sums him up.
Oh, and he’s never a left back. Mixu, what were you thinking?
Gavin Gunning – 2/10
If Gavin Gunning applied himself, concentrated on the park and was a team player, he’d be good. But he fails on all three of those fronts.
While he can make a tackle and is strong in the air, Gunning’s season – up until his acrimonious departure – was one full of errors. He’d inexplicably head the ball into his own net one week, or play the offside trap without looking at where his teammates were the next, and as a result he was to blame for many of the goals we conceded.
And yet some weeks he was rock solid. It’s frustrating, but he’s gone now so that’s all that matters.
Don’t ever come back, Gavin.
Ryan McGowan – 3/10
People rightly criticise Stephen Thompson for the way he’s run the club, but fair play to him for convincing some mug to pay good money to take this guy off our hands.
McGowan isn’t so much a bad player as an anonymous one. That the right back position was improved by an untested kid on loan from West Ham says it all.
Paul Dixon – 2/10
If Paul Dixon had not played for the club before, he’d be considered one of the all-time worst players we’ve ever signed. Nothing – nothing – has gone right for him.
He’s crap going forward and even worse in defence, and yet he’s one of our higher earners. He said he’d be willing to go if it helps United, so let me spell it out for him; Paul, it will absolutely help United if you leave.
Kyle Knoyle – 6/10
I think it must just be because he’s young and always tries his best, but some fans have gone over the top with their praise of the West Ham youngster. He’s an average player without any stand-out qualities that I’ve seen.
But he’s not made any noticeable mistakes so that probably makes him our best defender of the season.
John Rankin – 5/10
Rankin tries his best and was let down by almost everyone around him, but he – much like so many of his team mates – is past his best.
I don’t bear the guy any ill will because he’s a professional guy and is an inspiration to those around him, but apart from the 5-1 home win against Kilmarnock, he offered nothing almost all season.
In a wave of emotion, some people wanted him to be kept on for next season, but they changed their minds when he cost us two goals in the final game of the campaign.
Farewell Ranks, thanks for the memories, but it’s definitely time to go.
Paul Paton – 5/10
When Paton returned to the first team at the beginning of the year, he brought with him some much needed grit and determination.
Sadly though he didn’t bring any skill.
He’ll be leaving in the summer as well, and I can’t say I’m sorry to see him go.
I just don’t like the cut of his jib.
Guy Demel – 4/10
If you’ve ever played Football Manager, you’ll have seem a bit of Assistant Advice pop up on the side of your screen during a game telling you that one of your players “…is not used to playing at the tempo you’re asking”.
That’s Guy Demel in a nutshell.
Clearly a talented player, he moved slower than a herd of turtles stampeding through treacle and also seemed to want far too much time on the ball.
It was very frustrating.
He’s retired now. It’s for the best.
John Souttar – 1/10
In last year’s review I sang the praises of John Souttar and said he looked like a natural, quality player in central midfield.
Less than a year later, he came on for as a sub for the opposition in a game at Tannadice to a level of booing that could almost be described as feral. And I was one of those people booing.
What went wrong?
It’s simple; football fans love to see a player try. A guy who maybe isn’t the most gifted but tries his very best will always be received well. But a guy who has talent and clearly cannot be arsed? That’s the very worst type of footballer.
Whether or not rumours of being unhappy with management and/or training are true, Souttar played all of his games for us this season overweight and with a chip on his shoulder. He sauntered through games when he should have been applying himself. And he was terrible.
When Mixu was asked if losing Souttar to Hearts would have any impact on the squad, he said “None; absolutely none”.
And he was right.
Scott Fraser – 3/10
This one will be controversial, because there are some fans that seem to think a young local lad who is the product of our youth system should be free of criticism.
Scott Fraser has talent and could well improve in the future; indeed, a year in the Championship could be the making of him.
But to absolve him of criticism is to ignore the many flaws in his game.
He only seems to want to keep the ball with his left foot, he’s noticeably scared of 50/50s, his attitude and decision making appear to be suspect and he spends far too much time running his hands through his hair.
Now on that last point, when I first brought it up I had someone scoff at me and say I wasn’t being fair, but it seems like a lot of people have picked up on it now. It’s a little thing, but any time spent concentrating on keeping his hair out of his eyes is time not spent concentrating on his job.
Get a grip lad.
Chris Erskine – 3/10
Erskine seems like a good guy and for a spell last season he was a valuable player. This season though he’s been anonymous.
While he’s one of only a very small number of players who is talented with the ball at his feet, he’s also far too slow to make that talent work.
Next season he’ll be back at Partick, which is the best move for all parties.
Blair Spittal – 5/10
Sometimes Blair Spittal would stand head and shoulders above everyone on the pitch and other times you’d be forgiven for not realising he was playing.
There are a few fans that are hard on him for those games where he’s not so good, but he’s young and unlike Fraser appears to have a great attitude.
I think he can be an asset for us next season, if he isn’t sold.
Ryan Dow – 3/10
I’m sure you’ve heard of the Butterfly Effect; where an innocuous action can have far reaching consequences.
When Ryan Dow missed from a couple of yards out at Tannadice last September, that was the Butterfly Effect moment for us.
Had he converted that simple chance, we’d have won that game, possibly gained some confidence and gone on a run that could have kept us off the bottom of the table and resulted in different players being signed, McNamara staying on and turning his side around.
But Dow missed, Killie scored and a sequence of events that led to both Dundee Utd and York City being relegated was played out.
Oh and by the way, you were crap for the rest of the season too.
Billy Mckay – 2/10
Maybe I’m being harsh; maybe Billy Mckay cut a forlorn figure that was desperately starved of service from poor teammates and a tactical system that didn’t work.
Or maybe I’m not. Maybe it’s Billy Mckay’s fault that he missed chance after chance after chance, resulting in us failing to put teams away.
He was supposed to be the guy who would turn around our season and was paid enough money for us to expect a good return in terms of goals.
All we got was a guy who could score penalties.
A disastrous signing.
Darko Bodul – 1/10
If you talk to people who would know, Darko Bodul was the most talented player in training every single week and didn’t cause an ounce of trouble.
That’s all well and good, but on the park he was terrible.
Clearly Bodul has the pedigree to suggest he’s a player of some talent, but a) he’s not a striker despite being signed to play there and b) he’s totally unsuited to Scottish football.
Oh and when he did actually play in the early months of the season, he missed so many chances.
And on top of all of that, he’s one of the highest paid players at the club, if not the highest.
Simon Murray – 7/10
Like I said in the Souttar entry, fans get behind players who try their best.
Simon Murray tries his best in every single game.
And while the former plumber might not be the most talented of players –in the early part of the season he looked no better than a junior player – he would spook the opposition by chasing them down at every opportunity.
And do you know what? Maybe it’s because he was playing against guys on cruise control at the end of a long season, but in the last few weeks he actually looks like he’s developing a bit of skill.
Easily the best of a bad bunch.
Eddie Ofere – 4/10
“At some stage, someone’s told this boy he’s a player.”
That was the cutting description of Ofere on Sportsound last week by Pat Bonnar.
It’s accurate though; Ofere takes far too many touches, tries to skin players that don’t need skinned and then loses the ball.
He’s scored a few goals in recent weeks and arguably could do a job in the Championship, but it’s all come too late.
Henri Anier – 6/10
At one point it looked like The Estonian Jesus was going to make a greatest comeback since Lazarus, but whether he just threw in the towel or fell victim to Mixu’s random player selection generator, Anier drifted back into obscurity.
Another player on big money by our standards, he’s surely played his last game for the club.
Charlie Telfer – 2/10
Before Charlie Telfer, I’d never seen a player give up chasing down an opponent because he had to stop and mop his sweaty brow. Fat and unfit, this guy cost United more than Aberdeen paid for Kenny McLean. Think about that.
Rodney Sneijder – 0/10
Do I even have to comment?
Mario Bilate – 3/10
For the very short time he was on the park in those two games, he looked good. But sadly he was held together by sugar glass and blu-tak. Presumably he has since been turned into glue.
Riki Riski – 1/10
Robbie Muirhead – N/A
We paid a small fortune for him and then paid him off a year later. Didn’t play a single game for us in 15/16. Great.
Florent Sinama-Pongolle – 2/10
I had heard that we only signed him because he was willing to play for peanuts. I hope that’s true, but his contribution to the team ended up being worth less than the cost of those peanuts.
Aaron Kuhl – 2/10
I read that Arsenal were keen on signing him. I’m as confused as you are.
Adam Taggart – 2/10
While I think that he was too similar to Billy Mckay for that partnership to work, that doesn’t excuse how ineffectual he was.
Aidan Connolly – 3/10
He’s found his level in the Championship. Sadly, so have we.
Euan Spark – N/A
I never saw him play. But apparently he did well against Partick Thistle.
The only good thing to come from this season is the late emergence of young players who will be expected to muck in next season.
While I don’t want to rate them out of ten, Justin Johnson and Matty Smith both look like exciting young talents who aren’t afraid to run at the opposition, Harry Souttar doesn’t seem to have inherited the ‘Pussying out of headers’ gene his brother has, and Ali Coote, Jamie Robson, Cammy Ballantyne and Brad Smith have all done fine in their brief appearances.
Maybe the future is bright
Written by Stuart Milne