Young United striker is getting more games and, he tells Moira Gordon, that suits him just fine
RYAN DOW got the official club suit the last time Dundee United made it to the Scottish Cup final – but he was denied the strip he really wanted. With just two games between the Tannadice side and another shot at the silverware, he is determined to both get them to the final showdown and secure himself an on-field role.
He said: “I’d just made my debut a few days before the Cup final in 2010. I played against Hibs and Rangers then it was the cup final. I thought I might have had a wee chance of playing and I got fitted for a suit but I wasn’t involved.”
There was disappointment but not devastation. “I was just happy enough to have made my debut at that time, so I went to the game with a few of my pals and celebrated in the stand. I still got the suit but, because I wasn’t involved in the squad on the day, I never wore it. It’s still hanging up in the cupboard. I don’t know if it still fits me actually, I’ll have to try it on! But if we get to the final this year I’d imagine the chairman will splash out on new ones for the lads.”
Still only 22, Dow’s assimilation into the United first team has been gradual. His two games in his debut season were followed by a loan spell at Forfar the next. In the subsequent seasons he made 11 appearances, then 14 and, this term, has already played a part in 17 matches. It’s not as many as he would have liked but he accepts that, when everyone is fit, manager Jackie MacNamara has a glut of forward options
Out of the side at the beginning of the year, Dow’s absence coincided with a run of matches without a win but he was a second-half substitute as the side halted that sequence, beating St Mirren in the last round of the Scottish Cup. Three further wins have followed.
“You get frustrated when you’re not playing but I couldn’t complain when the boys were on a good run,” added Dow. “I spoke to the gaffer a few times and he said I was in his plans but would have to wait for my chance. It came with 15 minutes to go against St Mirren, then I got half an hour against Kilmarnock and now I’ve started the last couple of games.
“I like playing through the middle of a front three, there’s a bit more freedom. But everyone interchanges, whether it’s Gary Mackay-Steven or [Ryan Gauld] Gauldy. Everyone likes playing in that role but it’s brought the best out in me. Stuart Armstong and Gauldy have played in there before and even Nadir [Ciftci] has, so it’s good we have several players who can do it. It’s good for the manager to have those options and, when other teams see who’s playing, it causes them problems because, when they get the teamsheet, they won’t know who is going to play where, so that gives us an advantage.”
Even without any guarantee of playing, he is still keen to extend his contract at the club and try to help them secure more trophies. Dow’s agent is in talks with the club and he wants to stay. A local lad, he believes good times are coming and he wants to be part of it.
“The way the manager plays suits me down to the ground. Obviously, anything can happen in football but it would take big money for some of the young lads here [to leave]. We’re building a good, young team and, because of that, we can be inconsistent. But, when we’re on top form, I think everyone can see what a good team we are.”
Aberdeen and Inverness are both still capable of achieving the cup double but this afternoon represents United’s opportunity to end Inverness’ dream of cup domination.
“Inverness away is always a tricky trip but we’ve prepared well and, hopefully, we’ll do the business. We didn’t do it up there the last time in the League Cup [United lost 2-1 after extra time with ten men] and we were disappointed about that. We felt hard done by because of the sending off but it’s not about revenge. The competition is open and it’s a chance to get to a semi-final. We believe this can be our year, we’re confident.
“All the talk has been about Aberdeen and that suits us. They are already in a final and are getting talked about but we’re happy to go under the radar and leave the focus on everyone else. We feel we can beat anyone on our day if we play well so we’re always confident.”