MIXU Paatelainen last night claimed Dundee United would be foolish to dispense with his services in the wake of their painful relegation to the Championship.
United’s fate was sealed when they lost 2-1 to city rivals Dundee at Dens Park, goals by Kane Hemmings and Craig Wighton cancelling out Edward Ofere’s opener for the visitors, who needed a victory to keep their survival bid alive.
Paatelainen, who replaced Jackie McNamara as manager in October, is determined to remain in charge and insists he is the right man to rebuild the troubled club.
“Of course I want to stay,” said Paatelainen. “This is a wonderful club and it’s in my heart. It was my first club abroad as a player and I have special memories.
“I’m desperate to rebuild this team and make it a winning team.
“We have been here a few months now and we have the necessary knowledge of what has to be done. I identified these things very early.
“The knowledge and plan is already there. Only a fool would put that knowledge to waste.
“I haven’t considered leaving. I don’t give up. The ship was sinking when I arrived – that’s why there was a change in manager. We tried to tackle those problems but obviously it’s been a very difficult time. We have improved, but not enough.
“I’m absolutely devastated tonight, it’s my lowest point in football. We had Dundee under control, we were leading and looked really comfortable.
“That’s been the story of so many matches since we’ve been here. There is slackness and softness in so many individuals. Conceding goals like we did tonight has happened far too often.
“We need to make big changespersonnel-wise. We need characters who are more disciplined, decisive, hungry and ruthless.
“There are also some other football-related issues which need to be addressed. I won’t start talking about them.
“But until we get all these things improved and functioning properly, we are going to stay in a mess like this.
“The players’ attitude to work is fine, there’s no problem with that. They try their best – but it’s just not good enough. There is slackness and indiscipline there. It is mentality. Only making changes do you correct that.”
Asked if he would welcome public clarification of his future from United chairman Stephen Thompson, who has been severely criticised by the club’s supporters, Paatelainen replied: “I don’t dictate what the chairman does.
“I work for the club, for the team. I have a contract and I work regardless of whether there is a statement out on my future or not.
“I don’t mind speculation but I don’t think it’s healthy for the club to have questions over the head coach’s position. So maybe a public statement would help – but I don’t advise the chairman or expect him to do anything.
“We are in touch daily so I will speak to him soon. Nothing changes. There is more work ahead of us and until we get a winning team out there, no-one is happy or at rest.”
Dundee manager Paul Hartley insisted that he took no special pleasure in United’s relegation but felt his team merited their victory.
“I’m not here to celebrate Dundee United going down,” said Hartley. “I don’t think it’s a thing you want to see but someone has to go down and someone has to be the poorest team of the season.
“I’m glad it’s not us – we’ve had a steady season and we’re getting better. It wasn’t tonight that relegated Dundee United – it was the whole season and that’s the important thing.
“It was an emotional game tonight and I’m proud of the players coming back from a goal down.
“Well done to my players for never giving in and I thought we deserved it.
“We tried to pass the ball and in the first half were the better team and we coped with their direct style. We lost a sloppy goal and were punished but credit to the players.”