JACKIE McNamara last night hit out at “vindictive” recent rumours suggesting he was about to quit and re-iterated his pledge to try to bring silverware to Tannadice.
McNamara spoke out for the first time about internet chat flying around in recent weeks which claimed a rift had happened between himself and chairman Stephen Thompson, to the point that he was on the verge of leaving after losing star duo Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven to Celtic at the end of the transfer window.
United’s results have suffered in recent weeks but McNamara, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s William Hill Scottish Cup quarter-final tie with Celtic at Tannadice, poured scorn on the gossip before vowing he’s still every bit as fired up to deliver success.
He said: “The difference from a few years ago is that everyone can have a voice and a say on social media. That can go bananas, as we have seen.
“One person starts something and it becomes gospel and you then have to speak to players and reassure them that they shouldn’t believe it unless it is coming from me. That is the power of social media and that’s where we are.
“Everybody is reactive rather than proactive as regards what they see on social media and forums. To me, it’s about us sticking together and remaining focused on football.
“Players shouldn’t believe that stuff because it is people behind a keyboard and it can be quite vindictive. I don’t read it myself and therefore I try not to let it bother me. I don’t see anything myself but I get snippets when things seem to be getting out of control.
“I get told things by other people and find myself answering questions about what’s happening on the back of that. It is just wasted energy, to be honest.”
There was good news for McNamara this week when Nadir Ciftci was cleared to face Celtic, although the United manager has warned the talented Turk he has to start keeping his emotions in check from now on.
Ciftci is gearing up to take on Celtic after winning his appeal against a two-match ban for allegedly using violent conduct against Garry Warren in last Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with Inverness following Thursday’s successful SFA disciplinary hearing at Hampden.
The 23-year-old striker has been a big hit since signing for United but has previously found himself in bother with the authorities when he was hit with a two-match ban in the wake of a League Cup quarter-final tie with Inverness back in 2013, when he was sent off amid claims he’d used excessive force to grab assistant linesman Gavin Harris by the throat.
Ciftci, whose case was not proven, has the potential to go right to the top, although his manager feels the former NAC Breda player must learn to stay cool at times ahead of this weekend’s sell-out Tannadice tie. He said: “I am glad it was the right verdict and that he is OK to play. It was the right decision.
“It’s more a surprise because of what has happened previously. He has been involved in the build-up but there was uncertainty. So it’s good that it’s clear now and he can play. I think he has had a hard time of it, to be honest.
“I think it stems from the Caley game, the League Cup quarter-final up there. He got wrongly sent off and then there was a second charge which he was cleared of and that became a third charge which had been changed a few times.
“He got a two-game ban on the back of that. The actual thing he got sent off for wasn’t a red card, and there had been a lot of fall-out from that, but he has to learn to do things better as well. He needs to control his aggression at times. He does feel hard done to and the thing about Nadir is that he is a big, strong lad, so if he takes a bit and gives a bit back, it looks like retaliation at times. But that is part of his learning and he is still a young lad. He has to learn and use his fight the right way.”
Ciftci’s availability is a huge boost for United as he had been looking at missing all three matches with Celtic this month – including next weekend’s League Cup Final – had the ban stood.
And McNamara, who watched him hit the target in December’s 2-1 league win over Celtic on Tayside, said: “He is happy because that could have been him out for the whole month of March.
“To me, Nadir, on his day, is one of the best players in Scotland.”
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