RYAN Dow had a double in mind for this week. He has now completed the first part.
The Dundee United attacker wanted to get his contract situation resolved before the Scottish Cup final. It was announced yesterday the 22-year-old had done just that, courtesy of inking a two-year extension. That has made for a “great” start to a period he hopes will conclude in “brilliant” fashion with the right outcome for his team against St Johnstone at Celtic Park.
“It was a no-brainer,” Dow said of tying himself to United until the summer of 2015. “My agent and the gaffer had been talking for a few months and it is nice to get it sorted. All I want to do is play and I have been doing that here. The way the manager sets the team up suits me down to the ground. I am a local boy as well so it makes sense.”
Dow did not feature regularly earlier in the season. With Ryan Gauld then the creative fulcrum, Jackie McNamara’s side were marrying flair with flailings. In the past couple of months, though, Dow has been preferred to Gauld, revelling in the fact his manager has allowed him licence to roam through playing off main striker Nadir Ciftci in a 4-2-3-1 configuration.
Dow has made more appearances in this campaign than in his previous four seasons on the fringes of the senior side. Little wonder then that he delights in McNamara being as relaxed as he proved to remain at Tannadice, the United manager signing a contract extension and then last week seeming unmoved by an approach from Blackpool, that the club rejected. “It is a big factor that the manager is here. He obviously believes in me and has given me a lot of games — the most I have ever played,” Dow said. “There has been talk about in the last week but my mind was made up before that that I was staying here. I am glad he stayed and I hope he is here for the foreseeable future.”
When Dow thinks about the Scottish Cup final, the boyhood United fan can only be stirred by memories of the past. It seems that everyone at the Tayside club has a story to tell about United’s 2010 final victory over Ross County. As with many, David Goodwillie’s delightful chip after an hour is seared into his mind. That opener paved the way for a comfortable 3-0 success that followed. On the outside looking in four years ago, he thrills at the prospect of having a very different vantage point this time around.
“My dad was a United fan as were my pals so I had a season ticket for a good number of years. I had to give it up because I was a player myself eventually but the highlight was that 2010 Scottish Cup final. I was in the youth team but I went through to Hampden as a fan with my pals and it was a brilliant day. I got a good view of Goodie’s goal. I was right behind the goal at that end of the ground so saw it going in all the way. I would have an even better view if I managed to do that myself on Saturday. This time my family and pals are all going again but this time it will be a bit different for them because I will be on the pitch, hopefully. [After the win in 2010] the next day I went up to Tannadice for the cup being paraded and that was pretty special. It was fantastic and I would love to get to the city square this time if we win it because I didn’t make it there in 2010.”
Saturday will be the first time St Johnstone will have contested a Scottish Cup final but they hardly go into the encounter as timid novices. The Perth club have developed into something of a bogey team for McNamara’s side. They have scored six goals without conceding in notching up three straight wins. Dow is hoping that the very different nature of Celtic Park when compared to Tannadice or McDiarmid Park, can play in his team’s favour.
“We won the first game of the season against them then they have won the others,” he says. “Hopefully, we will be able to enjoy the big pitch and put that right on Saturday. I think Celtic Park will suit the way we play the game. St Johnstone are a good team. They have a good defensive unit and obviously there is Stevie May and Stevie MacLean, who are a really good partnership. So it will be a very tight game.”
United back-up goalkeeper Marc McCallum, 21, also signed a new deal until May 2016.
Speaking about Dow and McCallum’s contract extensions on the club’s official website, McNamara said: “I am delighted to get the players signed ahead of the Scottish Cup final.
“Both players want to continue to develop as Dundee United players and it is brilliant for the club to have them sign up until 2016.
“Ryan and Marc have both come through the ranks and in my time here both have shown continual improvement.
“Both are from the local area also and it will be a boost for our fans to see the players secure their future to the Club.”