Radoslaw Cierzniak last night spoke of his sadness at seeing Dundee United’s desperate plight – and warned them they could spend some time in the Championship
The former United goalkeeper admits he has been hurt watching the demise of his old club who are staring relegation in the face after Tuesday’s horror 3-0 home defeat by Motherwell left them 13 points adrift at the foot of the table.
Mixu Paatelainen’s bottom dogs face Hearts at Tannadice tomorrow with many convinced their fate has been sealed with just 13 games left to pull off a miracle escape.
Legia Warsaw ace Cierzniak, who spent three years at Tannadice before returning to his native Poland last summer, said: “It is so sad to see what’s going on.
“I think they’ve very little chance now and that hurts me to say that.
“It’s a massive hit for any team to go from the top division in Scotland down to the Championship and Dundee United are not a rich club.
“The budget will have to be cut again, so the chairman will not have an easy job on his hands trying to balance everything.
“On the playing side, it will get very hard because in recent years teams who’ve gone down have rarely come straight back up, with Hearts being the exception.
“I think it could come as a culture shock for the club, but if that’s where they find themselves come the end of the season, then it won’t be a nice position for anyone.
“No team can ever take anything for granted but obviously I hope it wouldn’t work out like that.”
United’s latest debacle at home to Motherwell prompted chairman Stephen Thompson to issue a public apology to the fans as well as challenging the players to redeem their own professional reputations in the final 13 league fixtures.
Thompson has come under fire over the past 13 months for selling top assets such as Stuart Armstrong, Gary Mackay-Steven and Nadir Cifti, but Cierzniak remained convinced all along the outcome was inevitable.
Cierzniak said: “I read the chairman’s statement. It is not an acceptable situation overall. But the chairman has to take a lot of responsibility for what has happened.
“In my eyes, it was pretty obvious what was going to happen.
“If you decide to sell someone like Stuart or Gary, you have to bring in players of the same quality to replace them.
“What you can’t do is take in a young player and hope that they can do the same sort of job. That just doesn’t happen in football. It is not possible.
“Of course, football is a business but there is still a point when you have to balance things on the football park.
“This is where it was very difficult for Jackie McNamara when he was manager – losing top players and not being able to replace them.”
Cierzniak has been shocked by some of his former team’s displays and believes the players must take criticism on the chin.
He said: “I have watched the highlights of games and it’s obviously not good enough.
“It’s the supporters you feel for most because the players are paid to do a job which they aren’t doing.
“In a way, I think they deserve the criticism they get because in football you can’t expect to get such results and nobody will say anything.”