Dundee United captain Sean Dillon has backed his new manager Mixu Paatelainen’s damning assessment of the team and admits they must go back to basics if they are to escape from relegation.
Sunday’s 5-0 defeat at Celtic Park saw United slide five points adrift at the bottom of the Premiership in which they have recorded just one victory so far this season.
Paatelainen described their performance as “rubbish with a capital ‘R’,” and “horrendous”, even letting slip an expletive in a separate post-match interview with the club’s own TV channel.
“I can’t argue with what the manager said,” reflected Dillon. “He was right. We had a chat after the game. He obviously wasn’t happy at half-time and he still wasn’t when the game was finished.
“We were made aware of how unhappy he was. But look, we are not happy either. We did basic stuff wrong. We had a certain plan coming into the game but the goals we conceded are basic goals.
“If you look at every single one of them, they are basic. I’m sure Celtic will be happy with them. They will say they are good goals from their point of view and that’s right.
“But, from our point of view, they are poor goals to concede. After working on a lot of stuff since the manager came in, it is very, very disappointing and frustrating to concede goals like that.”
There have been no obvious signs of improvement from United in the two matches Paatelainen has overseen so far since replacing Jackie McNamara.
“Confidence can be an issue,” admitted Dillon. “I wouldn’t dismiss that altogether because we are bottom of the league with one win this season.
“It’s not a great time, so I can understand confidence being low. But we need to keep working. Regardless of whether your confidence is high or not, you shouldn’t be making basic mistakes and giving goals away like we did on Sunday. We have to believe it can turn around. We have got a lot of good guys in the team, a lot of talent. The basic stuff needs to be right. That is something the gaffer has been pushing on us since he came in. Okay, it has only been 10 days or so but he is very determined to put it right. Whoever is in the team has to make sure they are putting it right to make him happy. That’s what we are desperate to do.
“It has to change soon. What the gaffer says is right because he is looking at having to work on a lot of stuff. You can’t argue with that.
“But we know that we need results. You don’t want to be looking at other people’s results, but it’s hard not to – especially if you are playing on a Sunday and other games are happening on a Saturday. You get an idea of what’s going on.
“The immediate future is a case of working really hard on a lot of different things. Mainly basics. And trying to put that right. I do believe that if we do that then we will be alright. But it is going to be hard.”
Dillon is the longest-serving and one of the most experienced members of the United squad, but the 32-year-old Irishman does not subscribe to the view there is a need for the squad’s more youthful members to step up to the plate.
“I personally wouldn’t go down the road of pushing things away from me and a couple of the older boys to say ‘we’re doing alright’ and the young lads aren’t. I don’t think that’s fair. We are all in it together. I think it can be an easy get-out sometimes to say we have good, technical players but not much fight in them and stuff.
“I wouldn’t totally agree. Like I said, there is a lot of work to be done. We are talking about basic stuff here. We are not asking people to do things they can’t do. We just need to continue working on the basics and we’re hoping it is going to happen very quickly.”