DUNDEE UNITED striker Nadir Ciftci has labelled St Johnstone defender Frazer Wright “a bad player” and accused him of lacking respect during Saturday’s Scottish Cup Final.
Ciftci and Wright were engaged in a tense battle throughout the match at Celtic Park and the Turkish forward was unhappy with comments directed towards him by his opponent.
“I’ve learned something in football, that the bad players on the pitch will always look for the best players on the other team and swear at them,” said Ciftci.
“What he [Wright] said to me in the game, I don’t need to go into details about it. But that’s football, you will get that. You give everything to win the game, but I think there has to be a bit of respect as well.”
Wright, however, was unapologetic and content that his efforts to unsettle Ciftci had succeeded as St Johnstone lifted the trophy with their 2-0 win.
“I was in Ciftci’s ear a bit, winding him up, because I don’t think he plays as well when he gets worked up,” said Wright. “He is one of United’s best players and things tick for them when they go through him.
“He will do me for pace every time. It started a few weeks ago when we played them in Perth. The manager wondered if I could wind him up. I was in his ear and just kept it going.
“He caught me in the face in the second half, but it was nothing. He was quiet at the end. I didn’t see him after the game, because he had his face in his shirt, hiding like Luis Suarez.”
Despite his unhappiness with Wright’s behaviour, Ciftci was otherwise magnanimous in defeat on a day when he came agonisingly close to equalising for United with a stunning free kick which struck the crossbar early in the second half.
“It just didn’t happen for us, so congratulations to St Johnstone for winning the cup,” added Ciftci. “It’s hard for us, especially after a great season. I hoped we could finish it off with a trophy, to give something back to our fans, but it just didn’t work.
“It wasn’t just my free kick, there was also Ryan Dow’s first-half effort onto the post. The ball just didn’t want to roll the other way. It didn’t want to go in.
“It was not the easiest game for us but I felt all of the guys put a great effort in. I can’t say anyone didn’t do their best. Everyone gave everything that they could. It’s disappointing that we lost the final, but we have to take it.
“I don’t think I can blame anyone in the team for the result.” Ciftci’s impressive first season at United has sparked speculation he could be among a number of their players targeted by English clubs this summer.
“I have not heard anything about other clubs,” he said. “We have so many good players, it is normal other clubs will look at them. But I hope we stay together and come back to lift the trophy next time.”
One player almost certainly on his way out at United is central defender Gavin Gunning. The Irishman is out of contract and has been strongly linked with a move to Rangers, although he has also attracted interest from England.
“It was probably my last game for United,” admitted Gunning. “I’ve spoken to the manager about it but I don’t know what I’m doing yet. I’ll have to wait and see what offers the postman brings.
“It is tough to say goodbye to United and it’s not the way I wanted to finish, losing the cup final.
“We lost two bad goals and we were just not meant to win it. We were the second best team on the day and that’s hard to take.”
United full-back Keith Watson is committed to further pursuit of silverware with Jackie McNamara’s side and believes they can use Saturday’s disappointment as a motivational tool next season.
“That’s exactly what we’ll do,” said Watson. “We want to be lifting it next time and that will make us hungry to go on and do it next season.
“It wasn’t to be this time. We have a couple of days to get our heads round it, then most of us will go away on a break and then get ready to go again next season. I just want to put the final to the back of my mind now. It’s over and done with and nothing is going to change it. We’ll learn from it and take it into next season.
“We have shown great performances this season and it is a pity that we’ve gone out and lost the final 2-0. It’s obviously a huge blow but we can take positives from the season as a whole and look forward to the next one. We have a good group of boys, so if we get a good break then a good pre-season under our belts, we will be firing at the start of the season.
“We lost poor goals in the final and it was also one of those days when the breaks didn’t go our way when we had chances of our own.
“Conceding the first goal in first-half stoppage time was a terrible time to go behind.
“I felt we controlled it and were the better side in the first half. But that was a sucker punch and we went in a wee bit down at half-time. We got back up for it again and were buzzing at the start of the second half but we just didn’t get the break we needed. We beat St Johnstone 4-0 at the start of the season, but they’ve now beaten us four times since then and we haven’t scored against them. Credit to them for knowing how to play against us. We needed to match them for fight and up our game, but it just didn’t happen for us.”
He added: “It was hard to watch them lift the cup at the end. You have to stand there and applaud the other team though. When they lifted it, it was just a case of us heading off the pitch into what was a very disappointed dressing room at the end.”