Houston predicting bright 2012 as young Scots talent develops

Dundee United manager Peter Houston believes 2012 can be a positive year for Scottish football with teams continuing to blood young players.

United lost several first-team regulars in the summer, including David Goodwillie, Craig Conway, Morgaro Gomis, Prince Buaben and David Robertson, and saw the experienced Scott Severin suffer a triple leg break in the opening weeks of the season.

But they begin the year against Aberdeen today in the top half of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, with young players such as Johnny Russell and Stuart Armstrong impressing in recent weeks.

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Houston said: “The future of Scottish football is really bright. Teams are giving young players a chance and are developing them for the future. You get inconsistency with them at times, but that is natural when you are playing three or four in the same team.

“The teams who have not been inconsistent, St Johnstone and Motherwell for example, have more experience throughout their side.

“We have gone through a major transition since the [2010] Scottish Cup final. We only had three of the cup final team playing the other day at St Mirren. That is a massive change in the space of 18 months.”

The Scotland assistant manager was relaxed about United’s league placing when they hit a difficult spell and believes there is little to pick between most of the teams in the SPL.

“I think the SPL is more competitive this season,” Houston said. “St Johnstone are much more consistent than they were and Motherwell are the same. Kilmarnock and St Mirren have improved a lot as well. The SPL is a tougher league this season I think.

“I think that the finances will dictate in future that the league will be more competitive outside of Celtic and Rangers. The problems in the economy are biting most teams in the SPL. It has always been competitive, but it might be even more so in the years to come.

“There is nothing between most of the teams and that’s why we have not mentioned getting into the top six. It is so congested that one result is enough to shake things up. It is far too early to look at league placings.”

United will find out today if former Sligo Rovers midfielder Richie Ryan gains international clearance to face the Dons.

Aberdeen midfielder Ryan Jack admits there will be no excuses in the second half of the campaign now the Dons have adapted to the summer changes. Despite struggling in the bottom half of the table all season, they have shown signs of improvement recently having lost just once in five Clydesdale Bank Premier League matches.

Aberdeen are looking to have a far better 2012 than recent years and, ahead of their trip to Dundee United, Jack told RedTV: “It takes time to gel when you have four or five new players coming in. At the start of the season we didn’t really know each other.

“In the second half of the season, now we all know each other and have all gelled, there are no excuses. We need to go out and get results.”

Jack has been moved into his preferred central midfield position alongside Kari Arnason, who had been missing with a hamstring injury, and the pair have given the Dons a more solid feel.

The Scotland Under-21 international, who had been playing at full-back, said: “We know where people are going to make their move and know where to pass [to them]. It helps on the pitch when you have some understanding.

“Kari’s quite experienced and he has helped me through games. I think we have had a good understanding.”

Jack is excited about the trip to Tannadice, with at least 3,000 Aberdeen fans making the same journey.

“It’s always great going down there and having all the fans behind us,” the 19-year-old said. “Putting on a good performance and getting a result would be a great way to start the new year.

“When you go to an away game and see all the fans that we get at Dundee United, it really helps to have the fans behind us. You want to do that bit extra to make sure you get the result for the fans.”