Dundee United manager Ray McKinnon believes it’s written in the stars for talisman Tony Andreu to come back and haunt Hamilton – and help the Taysiders clinch their return to the Premiership.
Back in May 2014, Andreu hit a dramatic injury-time strike to force Accies’ Premiership play-off final tie with Hibs into extra-time before underdogs Hamilton secured a 4-3 win on penalties to end their three-year absence from Scotland’s top flight.
Andreu, who later went on to clinch a move to Norwich City in a £1 million transfer from Accies, knows what it takes to handle the pressure of a play-off final and come out on top in such nerve-shredding surroundings.
The 28-year-old is now gearing up to try and drive United back into the Premiership following the pain of last season’s relegation when they go head-to-head with Martin Canning’s men in tomorrow night’s first leg clash at Tannadice ahead of Sunday’s showdown at the SuperSeal Stadium.
McKinnon believes the flamboyant French attacker, who has been a revelation since joining United on loan from Norwich earlier in the season, is on course to break Hamilton’s hearts this time round having helped them achieve their feat three years ago.
McKinnon said: “For Tony Andreu, is it just written? I don’t know, up against his old club – and he’s due a goal!
“He is due a goal, seriously, he’s definitely due one. So maybe he’s going to pop up in the next two games with a really important one.
“I think it’s more the boys who have been speaking about it with Tony. All these things add to it, don’t they? And he is a match winner. He’s got 20 goals this season, helped us win a lot of matches. Here’s hoping he’s got at least one more in him for the play-offs.”
With the exception of Hamilton in recent seasons, Premiership teams have tended to hold the upper hand in the play-offs. But McKinnon, whose promotion hopefuls saw off rivals Falkirk in last week’s semi-final, insists his men couldn’t be in better shape going into tomorrow night’s televised first leg .
McKinnon said: “I think they [Premiership teams] have in the past, certainly had the edge. But looking at my team’s stats – I’m not a big believer in every stat – but, in the second half of every game, our fitness has been incredible.
“So we don’t have any fitness issues – and the desire is definitely there. Blair Spittal’s stats are through the roof, Simon Murray’s stats are through the roof, Willo Flood’s stats are through the roof – both in terms of distance covered and performance. So that’s huge for me right now. Massive.”
United have every right to fancy their chances against Canning’s outfit, having lost only once at Tannadice all season, against Championship winners Hibs,
McKinnon said: “It is great to have a strong home record. And, if we can keep that intact, we give ourselves a chance.
“If we stay in it on Thursday, that’s important to give ourselves a chance of going up.
“I do believe that, if we’re still in the tie, all the pressure shifts to the home team in the second leg. Because there is an expectation that they will go up. There is an expectation that they’ll win because they’re at home.
“So we have to make sure we’re still bang in this tie going into Sunday’s game. That gives us a great chance.
“Hamilton are a good side, they showed on Saturday they can score goals against Dundee. They’ve got good experienced players, they are a Premiership team, but again we need to show them the respect they deserve.
“But again I keep saying it’s more about how we play and how we set up and how we perform. I think it’s important we focus on us and nothing else.”