DUNDEE United manager Jackie McNamara has told his youngsters they have no reason to feel ashamed about their four-goal humbling by St Mirren.
The Tannadice side saw a six-game run of successive victories come to a shuddering halt when St Mirren clocked up a shock 4-1 win. But McNamara believes the scoreline was not a true reflection of the game.
After the match in Paisley, the United boss argued St Mirren skipper Jim Goodwin should have earned a second yellow for a string of physical challenges before Saints manager Danny Lennon was able to substitute him for his own protection. And he also hailed the performance of home goalkeeper Marian Kello, who pulled off four important stops to deny United.
McNamara also insists teenagers like Ryan Gauld, Andrew Robertson and John Souttar will not pay the price for that heavy defeat when he names the side to face St Johnstone in Perth tomorrow.
“They are here to entertain the Dundee United fans, to try and play. We ask them to do certain things and take responsibility on the ball and to be positive,” he said. “When it doesn’t work then I will take responsibility for that. For me there will be no difference between how we prepare for Sunday’s match and how we did for the St Mirren match.
“Okay it didn’t go our way against Saints but we will look towards Sunday now and try to bounce back.
“I’ve told the boys there is nothing to be down about. With football, sometimes you don’t get what you deserve. Everyone will look at the 4-1 scoreline but I have looked at everything in the game and I thought it was a game we could have won easily enough.”
Goodwin was substituted by Saints two minutes before the break with Lennon fearing referee Bobby Madden’s patience was running thin.
But United felt the Irishman should have been dismissed earlier and even took the unusual step of posting footage showing Goodwin catching Stuart Armstrong with a forearm smash on their YouTube page to back up their point.
However, McNamara is not worried that teams will seek to target his talented youngsters with heavy-handed challenges. He added: “They are young lads but they have experienced all that sort of stuff when they were playing for boys clubs, the rough treatment and tough tackles. It’s part and parcel of football.”
While Goodwin was replaced before he was sent off, it was United who finished with ten men as right-back Keith Watson was shown a straight red for his crude tackle on Paisley teenager Sean Kelly. He will now miss tomorrow’s Tayside derby .
St Johnstone striker Nigel Hasselbaink will take heart from United’s surprise defeat in Paisley although the Perth side’s narrow 1-0 loss at home to Celtic the same day left them without a league win in four games.
By way of consolation, however, the Dutchman took note of the remarkable reverse suffered by United as he looked forward to the weekend.
“Dundee United were on a good run,” he said. “Normally they score four goals [rather than concede them] so hopefully they can stay in a dip. If it can happen against St Mirren, why can’t it happen on Sunday?
“United play good football. I like their style of play and you have to give the young boys credit. They love to go forward and they can score goals easily. They scored a lot of goals in the previous six games but they lost against St Mirren so hopefully we can beat them as well.
“It is a home game for us and we need to start winning games. We also have players in this team who can score goals so it should be a good game.”
Hasselbaink insists his team-mates can take further encouragement from their display against Celtic.
The 23-year-old added: “Loads of good things happened for us in that game. I don’t want to say we deserved to win but I think we could have got a draw.”