DUNDEE United manager Jackie McNamara last night told Partick Thistle fans he is not worried about getting pelters in tonight’s top-flight curtain-raiser – and will always be proud of what he did for the Jags.
McNamara returns to Firhill for the first time since his bitter departure back in January which led to a well-documented battle between the two clubs over compensation which took until the summer to resolve.
McNamara knows he faces the prospect of a backlash from angry Thistle supporters in their historic SPFL Premiership meeting for leaving them in favour of taking over at Tannadice along with assistant Simon Donnelly.
But the former Celtic and Scotland star is refusing to be even slightly fazed by the possible adverse reaction from the home stands in their televised meeting. McNamara said: “I’m not worried at all. It’s their prerogative if they want to do that.
“Look two years ago to where they were and where they are now and what they’ve got. We take a lot of pride in that. So if they want to shout things then that’s it. I wouldn’t change anything. I said back in January had I stayed until the end of the season, I would still have done the same thing and come here.
“In my eyes, I have bettered myself. I come here to St Andrews for training every morning in a good environment with resources here to do the things that I want with a great group of players. If it was like that (everywhere) in football, I would never have left Dunfermline as a kid to go to Celtic because I loved my time there. But it’s all about bettering yourself. If you do well, you get the chance to stay at a club longer or move somewhere else.
“If you don’t then you’re out and some people can easily fall onto the scrapheap in football.”
McNamara is relishing his first full season at the United helm having replaced Peter Houston in mid-season.
United were buoyed by last weekend’s 1-0 glamour friendly win away to FA Cup holders Wigan Athletic and McNamara reckons they can hit the heights which United fans will demand. He added: “I want to see how we take this forward and progress. I know what I have in the dressing-room and the ability and now it’s down to me and the staff to get them to go out and play with the freedom and the confidence. When they have the belief, like they did to beat Wigan last weekend, then they’re capable of good things.”
McNamara knows full well that the newly-promoted Jags will be fired up for the occasion as they bid to get off to a flier in their new surroundings. He said: “It’s the start of a new campaign and hopefully they are looking forward to it like the rest of us. We just need to concentrate on our game, keep Thistle quiet, keep the ball and cause them problems in the final third.
“It will be a great atmosphere with a bit of history with the new Scottish set-up coming into play. It’s all there. Thistle have a lot of good players. They have taken a lot of lads and given them a second chance after being released from other clubs.
“Personally, I know what they’re capable of, having worked with them. They have shown they have the ability and desire to be successful in the game so all credit to them.
“It should be an entertaining game, with both teams going to win it, and hopefully it’s us who come out on top. Thistle like to get the ball down and play it about on the deck which is pretty much like ourselves. That should make for good viewing so it’s all set up nicely for a decent 90 minutes.”
United defender Keith Watson has a slight knee knock, while midfielder Stuart Armstrong is nursing a thigh strain, but both should be fit.
McNamara said: “It’s nothing too serious, so hopefully Keith and Stuart should make it.”