On the plus side – yes there is a positive to take – they can leave the Premiership with their head held high.
How exactly can a team who earned roughly 0.76 points per game do so? Because they were kings of the nutmeg.
Stats provided by Jaymes Monte, a stats analyst for Dundee United, via StatsBomb, show Dundee completed the most nutmegs with 29 and had the most positive differential with 12 more executed than the 17 they ‘conceded’.
Rangers were next with 24 but they also gave up 24.
Hearts and Aberdeen gave up the fewest nutmegs, while St Johnstone had the largest negative differential.
Oh, St Johnstone. An argument – a nonsensical one at that – could be made for them to be relegated for that alone. They have not been fun to watch and that is cemented by the team having completed just seven nutmegs in 38 games. How boring. All that is left to do is tut and shake your head in disappointment.
As for the individual award.
Step forward Dundee winger Paul McMullan. The SPFL have been announcing their player of the year awards recently. They should be marching straight up to Dens Park to give McMullan his after completing 11 over the Premiership season. Four more than Celtic’s Jota and Rangers star Ryan Kent.
Quite an achievement considering who McMullan plays for and who Jota and Kent starred for.
Joseph Hungbo, Barrie McKay and Ian Harkes can also be pleased with their work, completing six nutmegs each.
For this writer, executing a nutmeg is right up there with thumping in a goal off the bar. It is exhilarating. Not only do you get the gratification of embarrassing an opponent but there is just something so satisfying about clocking said opponent out of the corner of your eye. As they steam towards you, the nonchalant slip of the ball underneath the them.
The best of the season
It’s the equivalent of debagging – it may have a different name elsewhere in Scotland – someone as a practical joke. Or having a friend crouch behind another to them push over. Immature? Yes. Funny? Also yes. Being on the end of one of those practical jokes is exactly how it feels when an opponent pops the ball through your legs and collects it on the other side.
I know the feeling all too well. The last time I played 5s a few weeks ago a friend did just that. How did I react? I let out a high-pitched ‘NOOOO’ and fell to the ground. Game over.
Yet, when the shoe is on the other foot and it’s you rolling the ball through an opponent’s leg, it gives you a sudden burst of adrenaline, energy.
You only have to look at one of the best nutmegs of the season. Kevin van Veen in Motherwell’s 4-2 win over St Mirren. He nipped the ball through Marcus Fraser’s leg – the Buddies defender taking that momentary pause to let it sink in – then he was off, down the line, into the box and to set up a goal.
What made it? The nutmeg.