Sean Dillon swears Dundee United did not disrespect St Johnstone in their last outing – and says they should use that claim as motivation for tonight’s return clash.
The Tangerines were accused of taking Saints lightly over the festive period when boss Jackie McNamara left out eight players prior to their New Year’s Day showdown with Aberdeen.
United’s controversial selection policy backfired as they went down 3-0 to Stevie May’s hat-trick for the Perth club and that prompted Aberdeen’s Peter Pawlett to brand them disrespectful when the Dons also went on to inflict defeat on them just a few days later.
But Dundee United skipper Dillon has now urged his team-mates to use that criticism of being arrogant as a spur when Tommy Wright’s men roll up at Tannadice for their televised clash.
Dillon said: “Yes, you can use anything to your advantage. But I don’t see it as arrogance. If you look at it, and you say they were showing an arrogance by not playing their strongest side, then that in itself is having a pop at the players who did play that day.
“I wasn’t playing and I came in and for me that’s like saying I’m not one of their better players, or whoever else started the game that didn’t go on and play in the Aberdeen game. The boys who came in against St Johnstone are good players and good enough to win the game regardless of who they were playing.
“I don’t see it as showing any disrespect to St Johnstone. It wasn’t like we put out six or seven under-18 players to rest the first team. So I don’t see it as arrogance at all.”
Dillon is adamant McNamara’s men would never have let their feet get off the ground when they were earning rave reviews for their displays prior to their festive form slump.
He added: “People have different opinions. That guy has said there was a bit of arrogance, but I don’t see it. There were so many games over Christmas and the manager wouldn’t want to play the same team in all of them. I know Derek’s [McInnes] players just keep going and keep the momentum going. But other managers will chop and change and bring fresh players in. The hope was that the players would go in against St Johnstone and show that they wanted to get into the team.
“We never get too up when we win and we never get too down when we lose. We’ve not won in six, but we need to keep our heads up.”
United haven’t won since defeating Ross County 1-0 at home on 21 December and Dillon is at a loss to explain why their fortunes have taken a hit in recent weeks, but knows there’s no better time to hit form again.
He said: “We need to win the game because it has been a while now. We just need to continue working hard in training and bring that into games.”
United are expected to welcome back teenage pair John Souttar and Ryan Gauld for tonight’s Tayside derby after McNamara sent them both to Spain recently for a break to recharge their batteries.
Dillon hopes the fans’ favourites come back buzzing in their quest to gain some revenge on Saints and kick-start the Tannadice men’s season.
He added: “The gaffer feels the lads needs a break, so the hope is they will come back fresh and ready to go.”