My Dundee United team refused to sit back and ‘have their bellies tickled’ by Celtic - Mellon

Tannadice manager pleased with performance despite defeat
Dundee United manager Micky Mellon. Picture: Steve Welsh/PA WireDundee United manager Micky Mellon. Picture: Steve Welsh/PA Wire
Dundee United manager Micky Mellon. Picture: Steve Welsh/PA Wire

Dundee United manager Micky Mellon said his team refused to simply sit back and “have their bellies tickled” against Celtic.

The newly promoted Tannadice side held firm for 84 minutes, before substitute Albian Ajeti struck to snare all three points for the champions as they continue on their quest for ten in a row – but it was tougher than anyone in green and white might have hoped.

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“We were going to make sure we had a right good go at it and I think everyone who was here or watched on telly would agree we did that,” said Mellon, pictured, who took over at United from Robbie Neilson during the close season.

Neil Lennon acknowledged his side had had to fight hard for the win which lifted them to within six points of league leaders Rangers with two games in hand.

“You have to credit Dundee United and Siegrist in goal, who made a couple of great saves,” said Lennon, the Celtic manager, who was pleased to see summer signing Ajeti grab his first goal for the club. “I’m delighted for him. It is always good for a striker to come in and make an early impact,” added Lennon.

“You can see he is not match fit yet but that will do his confidence the world of good. He is still another couple of weeks away [from full match fitness]. He has to get used to the speed of the game and how we play. But having that early impact will do him good. He has had a tough time of it in the last 12 months.”

Having failed to score during his one season at West Ham United, the Swiss international striker insists he has always believed in his scoring ability.

“The difference between West Ham and here is I feel the trust from the gaffer,” said Ajeti who joined Celtic in a £4 million deal. “He gives me my confidence back and not only for a striker but for all the players, it is important to feel that trust.

“But I don’t feel pressure on myself because I know I can score goals. I have showed that many times.”

The hard-fought win means that Celtic head into this week’s Champions League qualifier against Hungarian champions Ferencvaros at Parkhead in good spirits.

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“We have big games coming up and we have to be ready,” Lennon said. “We have to prepare and recover and be ready for that next game.”

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