The League season begins tomorrow at a venue that has seen some memorable Pars wins in the past; but what was once a profitable away journey has in recent years become a source of frustration - it is now 7 years since our last victory at the home of Dundee United. It appeared as though that run of winless games was about to end in the play-off game in May this year; Dunfermline 1-0 up, dominating the game, then given a glorious chance to go 2-0 ahead but the opportunity missed by Declan McManus. The game was then lost in the second half. So tomorrow we go again, both teams much changed even since that game 3 months ago. The past matters little - we go there with fresh hope and with every intention of starting the season with 3 valuable and significant points.
The Pars' 100% record in the Betfred Cup included a win against United's neighbours, Dundee, and goals from a variety of players. Defenders chipped in with a couple (Jackson Longridge and Danny Devine) while our forwards have all scored. We will be without the suspended pair of Ryan Williamson and Kallum Higginbotham tomorrow, meaning that the starting 11 could feature just 3 players who started the last game against United in May: Lee Robinson, James Craigen and James Vincent (plus Lewis Martin, if he has recovered from last week's injury and is selected). During the weeks that followed that game, we lost some of last season's main players - Callum Morris, Nicky Clark, Declan McManus, and Fraser Aird from the final quarter - but so far that has proved to be almost a blessing in disguise - last year's replacements are in no way a downgrade and have all made promising starts to their Pars careers. From what I have seen so far, I would not swap any of the above mentioned names for the players who have taken their places - Danny Devine, Faissal El Bakhtaoui, Myles Hippolyte and Louis Longridge, along with others who can also fill those positions.
Dundee United have also reshaped their squad over the summer. Clark and Aird moved from EEP to Tannadice along with another 10 players from other clubs. United's Betfred Cup campaign resulted in just 1 win from 4 games and failure to qualify for the next round. Manager Csaba Laszlo, a much derided figure amongst the club's support, has been backed by chairman Mike Martin, who had this to say this week about the manager and the season ahead: “I said at the end of the season that Csaba was going to lead our campaign this year. We’ve worked with him over the last 11 weeks putting together his squad, his coaching staff and putting in place the other elements of the infrastructure he needs to execute his job properly. “We were very disappointed with the (Betfred) results to be honest. Every competition we go into, every match, we want to win and although it does come very early in the season with not much of a pre-season behind you, that’s the same for all clubs. We were in no different position so far as that was concerned. I think where things were different here was the complete overhaul of the coaching and the playing staff and so we had the added complication of gelling the team basically.
“We were disappointed with the outcome, but it didn’t wholly surprise us given the stage we were at in terms of rebuilding the squad.”
Tomorrow is the time to achieve that long overdue win at Tannadice. It's time to defeat a club who have ridden their luck against us for far too long. We have the right mentality in this squad to win the game and to give the supporters a very enjoyable trip home.