Every fibre of Sean Dillon’s being will be praying that Dundee United flourish in the Championship after relegation from the top flight last season. The 33-year-old practically wilts when he reviews the past year in his life. A period that has brought the Tannadice side to the point where, under new manager Ray McKinnon, they need to do enough against the likes of Hibs, Falkirk and Raith, to regain a place among the elite.
Dillon has conceded that he is fortunate to have survived the club’s relegation season – in more ways than one. “For me it was the most draining experience in my life, even outside of football. I’ve never felt so drained, physically, mentally,” said the defender. ”I took it home with me, how can you not? I’ve a five-year-old, Shay, who goes to all the games and he’s quizzing you why we don’t win any more, why we don’t win at all? Then there’s a new-born at that time and you have to put a brave face on it when you get home because they don’t deserve to go through the pain.
“I live in Dundee, do my shopping in Dundee. You go to Tesco and people are – quite rightly – quizzing you on what’s happening. That’s not a complaint but you just can’t get away from it. But I’ve been here a long time, there’s been a lot of good times but that was definitely the lowest point. It’s certainly easier to talk about the good times than the bad.
“I think for everyone at the club, we need to move on. Yes, there are a number of us who are still there and I’ll hold my hand up and say we’re quite lucky still to be there. You look at some of the other boys who had reasonably good seasons even though we were relegated and there was no contract at the end of the season: ‘see you later’. But what’s gone is gone. If we’re going to do what we want to do we’re not going to do it by looking back.
“Even last season we were looking back at [the sale of] Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong, then it was Nadir Ciftci and it just seemed to be a lot of ‘what if?... what if?’. It’s done.
“We’ve new guys coming in and they’ll be aware of what happened but they won’t have experienced it and that’s a good thing because they bring a freshness. Then you have the guys who’ve been through it who are desperate to put it right. We don’t want to be remembered for relegation.”