Csaba Laszlo watched his Dundee United side stride to the top of the Championship, before warning them to prepare for a battle to stay there.
Laszlo was thrilled to see his title-chasers move three points clear of St Mirren after their free-flowing first-half display swept aside Falkirk.
It was a dream start for the former Hearts boss in his first league match in charge of United as goals from Scott McDonald, Jamie Robson and Willo Flood before the break left Paul Hartley’s second-bottom strugglers shell-shocked.
Laszlo succeeded the sacked Ray McKinnon recently with a clear remit to lead the Taysiders back to the top flight and has told his players they will have to fight tooth and nail to stay in pole position.
Laszlo said: “It was a very strong performance. One of the players came up to me after the game and said ‘gaffer we’re top of the table.’ So I told them now we have to work even more to stay there and be more focused.
“Everyone will be wanting to push us down but we have to keep this position and keep playing like we did here.
“It’s important now we don’t watch the table and the next important match is Brechin away on Saturday.
“It’s far easier to escape relegation than it is to win the league. There is more pressure at the top and you need more skills overall. You have to handle it mentally and physically. But hopefully this is an important step towards trying to get back to the Premiership.” United began brightly and made the breakthrough in 21 minutes. Scott Fraser switched the ball out wide left to Robson whose cross found its way to McDonald lurking inside the box. The former Celtic and Motherwell striker showed all his experience as he produced a delicate flick to steer his finish over the head of the advancing Robbie Thomson.
United duly went further ahead in 41 minutes. Fraser Fyvie released Stewart Murdoch down the right and his low cross was met by Robson who turned swiftly before sending a left-foot shot past Thomson.
And they weren’t finished there. Sam Stanton’s through pass set skipper Flood free and the Irishman made no mistake by drilling an unstoppable finish across Thomson right on the stroke of half-time.
More goals seemed on the cards after the break with the hosts almost increasing their lead in 66 minutes. It was a flowing move involving Fyvie who fed McDonald whose lay-off picked out Fraser, but the midfielder’s shot was right at Thomson. Soon after, Fraser saw his shot from an acute angle hit the bar before Fyvie did likewise from further out.
Falkirk boss Hartley said: “It was a bad day at the office. It was a real poor performance from the group. From the first whistle to the last, we were second best in every department.
“We were out-fought, out-thought, out-ran and out-played. So that was totally unacceptable. I think the goal-keeper is the only one who gets pass marks. We know that and we’re down at the bottom end of the table for a reason.”