Neilson feels turmoil will help unite his old team

Robbie Neilson has warned his new Dundee United team-mates about a siege mentality at Hearts as he prepares to make his debut against his former club.

Versatile defender Neilson this week joined United on a deal until the end of the season and is poised to make his first appearance for the Tangerines in tomorrow’s Clydesdale Bank Premier League clash against Hearts. The Edinburgh club have been embroiled in off-the-field controversies of late, with wages delayed and owner Vladimir Romanov announcing his intention to sell the club.

Neilson said: “The off-field stuff won’t be affecting them at all. We had the same situation when I was there and if anything it unites a squad as opposed to pulling it apart.

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“The boys are all in it together and I’m sure it will be difficult. They have strong characters, guys like Andy Webster. Financial issues like that aren’t going to bother the boys. Maybe Monday to Friday but when it comes to a Saturday it doesn’t make a difference.”

Neilson is relishing making his first United appearance against Hearts. He said: “It’s a great one to start with. There are not many boys left there from when I played but I know a lot of the backroom staff.

“At the moment I think Hearts are blowing hot and cold. Hopefully we get them on a cold day.”

Neilson highlighted United manager Peter Houston as the deciding factor in his move and believes his new team have the potential to match their performances in the last two seasons.

United won the Scottish Cup and finished third in the SPL in 2010 and were fourth last term but Houston’s position was shrouded in speculation last month following a stuttering start to the current campaign.

However, the United board backed Houston and funds were found for him to recruit Neilson, reuniting the duo following their time with the youth team at Hearts.

Neilson, who was a free agent after leaving Leicester last summer, said: “The manager is a big factor in me coming here.

“I’m here until the end of the season. Sometimes when you go to a new club it takes you four or five months to settle in. But here I already know the manager, the backroom staff and a lot of the players so hopefully it will help me settle in a bit quicker.

“The manager has done a great job here. The budget is coming down, he lost a lot of key players in the summer. It’s difficult to continually finish in third and fourth place.

“He’s building another team here and hopefully we can do that this season. The team are in the bottom six just now but it’s hopefully onwards and upwards and I can help. It’s a great squad and I think we’ve got potential to get back up there.”