Scott McDonald happy to return to sharp end for Dundee United
The former Celtic striker scored in the 2-0 win over Livingston on Saturday and hopes to take that form into tonight’s Premiership play-off quarter-final first leg against Dunfermline Athletic at East End Park tonight.
McDonald, 34, has been used in a deeper role in recent weeks as Csaba Laszlo’s side chased a play-off slot in their quest to seal a much-desired top-flight return, and he is relishing the challenge of bringing top-tier football back to Tannadice having now been restored to his normal attacking role.
McDonald said: “I’m feeling great. I enjoyed playing up front again on Saturday. Of course, it’s where I do my best work. I’m a centre-forward, aren’t I?
“There’s competition for places but if you look at the second half of this season, I’ve played up front not even a handful of times. That goes a little bit overlooked.
“I don’t get frustrated with it because it’s another string to my bow. I’ve shown I can play in other positions. Ideally, though, I like to play up front and score goals. We all know that I’m not going to run in behind all the time as I haven’t got the pace I used to. But my hold-up play allows others like Scott Fraser to run on beyond me. It’s great for the manager to have different striking options.”
United manager Laszlo has told his players to grasp the chance to make themselves heroes by sealing promotion back to the top tier.
Laszlo said: “This is where we want to be. They have a wonderful opportunity to get back into the Premiership. This is where a club like Dundee United belongs.
“There have been some tough times this season for everyone and we have taken blows along the way. But we can all pull together and make it memorable for everyone associated with the club.
“We know Dunfermline will be tough over two legs and we don’t want to look any further ahead than this tie.
“We are focused and go into this first leg tie in a positive frame of mind after beating Livingston.”
Laszlo’s counterpart Allan Johnston hopes Sir Alex Ferguson’s “winning mentality” will rub off on Dunfermline as they bid to keep their promotion dreams alive.
Ferguson, pictured, was at East End Park on Saturday to help some of his former Pars team-mates celebrate the 50th anniversary of their 1968 Scottish Cup triumph, and he took time out to chat with Johnston, his staff and players ahead of their key league encounter against Dumbarton, before witnessing a comfortable 4-0 victory.
“It’s great when you meet guys like that, who have been right at the very top of the game and managed the best teams and the best players in the world,” said Johnston. “I’m sure that’s inspiration for the boys.
“Did he pass on any advice? Just win!
“When you look at the record he’s got, it’s incredible. He’s a winner. If there’s anything to take from meeting guys like that it’s realising what it takes to win. I’m sure that must have got through to his players – his work ethic and his winning mentality.
“The aim is promotion. We’ve done the first part in getting us to the play-offs.
“Now, it’s up to us. You can see the boys have got the bit between their teeth, they’re really focused and they’re desperate to put a run of results together. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”