Henri Anier has revealed Dundee United’s exciting, free-flowing style of play was the main reason he decided to join the Tannadice club and begin a second stint in Scottish football.
The former Motherwell striker rejected more lucrative offers to join United from German second tier outfit Erzgebirge Aue, where he moved from Fir Park in the summer. After signing a two-and-a-half year contract, the 24-year-old Estonia international, who scored nine goals for Motherwell last season, could now make his United debut against Inverness today.
Anier said: “I am delighted to be a Dundee United player. I enjoyed my previous spell in Scottish football with Motherwell and I remember the United fans as passionate and colourful. I have watched the way United play – it’s attractive, exciting and many chances are created.
“Although I had other teams interested, once I had spoken to Jackie McNamara about his plans for United, it became the obvious choice. I cannot wait to wear the tangerine jersey and score goals at this club.”
United boss Jackie McNamara added: “I moved quickly when I heard that Henri was available and wanting to come and play for Dundee United.
“He is an excellent striker at a good age who I am sure will excite our fans. He had better offers financially but likes what this club is doing currently.
“He is a strong player who can score with either foot and will be an excellent addition to our team. He is a different striker from what we have here currently and I see him as the type of player to be able to go in behind defences and grab penalty-box goals.”
Anier’s arrival will soften the blow of Gary Mackay-Steven’s decision to sign a pre-contract agreement with Celtic.
United stated they “have no doubt that the player will continue to give his full commitment to Dundee United in our pursuit of success in every competition”.
But McNamara was unhappy with Celtic manager Ronny Deila’s public pronouncements on the player’s future ahead of the announcement by the champions.
McNamara told STV: “I don’t think Ronny should be speaking about our players under contract without speaking to us first. Obviously he’s been asked a question but he’s our player and I’m sure like every United fan feels the same way that we’ve got a lot to play for.”
John Rankin insists Mackay-Steven won’t have his head turned at the thought of his dream Celtic move.
Rankin is a big admirer of the Thurso-born winger and reckons his team-mate’s ice-cool temperament is such that he’ll never be fazed by anything.
Rankin said: “Gaz is just the way he is. You’ll never change him. He’s that laid-back. I don’t know if that’s because of where he’s been brought up. Everything’s just slow and relaxed away up in Thurso, but he’s just like that in the dressing room.
“So to be honest he’s taken everything in his stride. I don’t think he’s getting caught up with anything. I think he’s been in great form the last three or four games, he’s been unbelievable. When you see some of the situations he gets himself out of, how good his feet are and he scores as well. That’s four goals in three games, he’s in top, top form.
“I think he’s going out and proving what he can do on the pitch and letting his football do the talking which is the best way to deal with it.”
Meanwhile, Aaron Doran reckons Inverness will miss right-back David Raven’s attacking qualities more than his defensive capabilities today.
The Englishman sits out this afternoon’s clash after his Rugby Park red card in last week’s win over Kilmarnock.
But the defender’s one-match ban is a bigger blow to boss John Hughes’ plans for unpicking the United defence than the one he has for shutting them out at the other end.
Raven is Caley Thistle’s top provider of goals with five assists this season – only Celtic’s Stefan Johansen has set up more scoring chances this term with six.
Doran said: “David will be a big miss on Saturday at Tannadice. He is probably one of our top assisters this season. The system we play, we use the wing-backs high up the pitch and we need him to get forward and put those crosses into the box.
“He’s been playing more like a winger this season than a defender and you can see that by how many goals he has set up. I think he has played every game this season so it will be a hard one to take when he’s out of the squad. Hopefully whoever comes in can do a good job and we can push on.”
If Celtic drop points at Hamilton in today’s lunchtime kick-off, the winner of the game at Tannadice will move up to second place.
But Doran believes the battle for the title and European slots will go right to the wire. He said: “I’ve had a little look at the table. It’s pretty close. There’s not much between the teams around us.
“As long as we keep picking up points I’m sure we will be up there towards the end of the season.”