Mixu Paatelainen has pledged to carry on at Dundee United but knows much else needs to be discussed before his own future at the club is resolved.
“I am determined to work hard and make things better,” he said yesterday, after the 3-1 defeat by Hamilton Accies left United still eight points adrift at the bottom and staring relegation in the face.
There are just four games – including next Monday’s potentially decisive derby against Dundee – left to play. “At the moment the situation is very negative and I don’t think we should say too much, the disappointment is so vast,” added Paatelainen.
Such was the dismay at the latest surrender from United, over 200 fans gathered outside the ground to protest at the running of the club by Stephen Thompson, the chairman and majority shareholder.
The manager answered “no comment” when asked what the scenes meant for Thompson. But Paatelainen was in agreement with the fans’ angry response if it was directed at the players, at fault for such a meek performance against Hamilton.
“I understand it, absolutely,” he said of the protests. “We deserve all that, we were so poor today. But it has been a long season, they have been long suffering. It has been long suffering for the players as well. And I cannot understand why or how so many simply do not respond in the manner we need.”
The Finn stressed there could be no excuse for the timid start made by his team in such a vital game. Paatelainen again questioned his players’ desire. “The way the match started I could not believe my eyes how it was clear winning the match meant so much more to the Hamilton players,” he said. “All credit to them but we were second best, simple. I cannot understand that.
“It was totally opposite to how we prepared, and how we spoke. Whenever there’s been an opportunity to put Kilmarnock under a little bit of pressure, we have fallen short. We have fallen flat. It is simply not enough.”
United must now entertain the possibility of Dundee condemning them to Championship football a week today, providing Kilmarnock win against Hamilton on Saturday.
“It still means everything,” said Paatelainen of the Dundee fixture. “It is a derby match and anything can happen. But if we perform like that then we will not get anywhere near Dundee, their strikers will cause loads of damage.”