AS THE final minutes ticked away, the intervention of the bar and the post long since signalling it was not going to be Dundee United’s day, one punter tossed his scarf on to the pitch writes Moira Gordon.
If that individual was disgusted by the club’s inability to win their second Scottish Cup final in four years, his sentiment was not shared by the United boss Jackie McNamara.
“I’m not going to react to that,” said McNamara, pictured right. “The fan is obviously disappointed we didn’t get the cup today.” He wasn’t the only one. The United boss said it simply hadn’t been his team’s day, but insisted they would come back stronger. “I’m disappointed for the players,” added McNamara. “I wanted them to be part of something good but it was down to margins. We hit the post and the bar and the goal going in just on half-time was a real body blow. We really tried to break them down in the second half, but it just wouldn’t go in for us.”
His side have earned praise this season for their creativity and exciting attacking options but, having missed out on silverware and been shut out of Europe, McNamara says those plaudits offer little consolation.
“Not at this moment, but that’s the difference between winning and coming up losers,” he said. “We finished losers in the final and that’s all I’m thinking about right now. We worked so hard to get to the final and there were little moments there that cost us a higher place in the league and the victory today. I know we can do a lot better.”
United did have chances but didn’t have luck and, when Ryan Dow’s effort come back off the post, after Andy Robertson whipped in a cross, the writing seemed to be on the wall. “He was unfortunate with his chance. I thought he’d scored and I think he did too. I was disappointed for him because he did have a good game,” said McNamara. “We tried to raise the tempo in the second half but, at times, it was quite stop-start. I think you have to congratulate St Johnstone on their victory. Tommy [Wright] has had a fantastic season and his players have done him proud.”
As Wright celebrated at the final whistle, McNamara had the task of quite literally picking his players up. Heartbroken on the turf, he went round them individually, having a wee word and a wee hug. He paid special attention to goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak, who had come flying out at the first goal and failed to collect.
“Overall, there is so much to learn from this. We need to do things quicker and switch on better at throw-ins and corners, but I’ll never criticise anyone for making mistakes. The players have been fantastic all season. I’m proud of them.
“I don’t know if our keeper was impeded at the first goal. I would be guessing but he made the decision to come out for it and I’d never criticise a goalkeeper for coming out and trying to get the ball or making a mistake.
“The way St Johnstone played, you have to give them credit. Usually I concentrate on my own team and there are players there who can play better than today but you have to give St Johnstone credit for that.”