United defending must be better, insists McNamara

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Dundee United manager Jackie McNamara has warned his Scottish Cup hopefuls they can’t afford a repeat of the dodgy defending which culminated in their 6-2 thrashing at Parkhead back in February.

The shellshocked Arabs were left licking their wounds that day in McNamara’s only defeat since taking over from Peter Houston in January as he prepares for Sunday’s last-four clash.

The former Scotland defender said: “I go for it in every game. We did lose 6-2 at Celtic Park in the league but we didn’t defend well that day. We will need to do much better at Hampden. It was not that we were gung-ho. It was more that the goals we lost were poor.

“We scored a good goal ourselves but within a minute we had conceded following a corner. That changed the whole dynamic of the match.

“That was the upsetting and disappointing thing for me, because we showed that we can go to Glasgow and cause Celtic problems with our forward play. We should have seen it through the next 15 to 20 minutes.”

McNamara relishes locking horns with his former Parkhead team-mate Neil Lennon and insists the Tangerines aren’t going to Hampden just to sit back. He said: “I don’t know what Neil will do but my job is to prepare my players as best I can. I must make sure we are mentally focussed.

“We won’t be lying down. Instead, we will be going there intending to play the way we can play.

“The second-half of Saturday’s game against Aberdeen showed how I want to play. We passed the ball, got forward and created chances.”

McNamara is well aware of the threat posed by Celtic from set-pieces. He said: “You can go through systems and tactics before a match like that one but if one person switches off at a corner or a set-piece then your plan is out of the window.

“Celtic are a big threat at corners and free kicks, as has been shown in the Champions League this year when 60 per cent of their goals came from set-pieces.We need to look out for that.”