The International break is now upon us and whilst for some that is a good thing, it is always the worst time of the season for me when these breaks roll around. I miss the thrill of gathering with the boys and heading to Tannadice (or whatever ground we happen to be gracing) and backing United.
But is does give us time to sit back a take a look at where we are and a quick glance at the SPFL table makes for some good reading as we currently sit second. But is that really the full story of the season so far?
This season was always going to be different from last. Whilst the fancy football, which drew plaudits and scouts alike to the club, was fantastic to watch, as was the run of 4 & 5 goal demolitions of teams, at times, that masked a massive problem with the team, a defence frailty which, as the season went on, become more and more obvious, culminating in a tepid display versus St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup Final.
There were incomings and outgoings over the summer, the club made a sizable income from transfer fees and the bank debt was ended. It also seen two very important signings, Callum Morris and Jaroslaw Fojut.
Both of them are old fashioned defenders, the defend first and leave the football to those further up the pitch. It has brought a stability and a little bit of bit back to our game. Both have also brought another dimension to attacking set pieces, having already opened their accounts for the club.
Let’s not mention both have also scored against Dundee this season!
But whilst the solidity and bit has been returned to the team, some would say it has been missing for years, has our attacking play suffered?
It is already clear to see we are missing Andy Robertson. Whilst Andy is now flying high with Premiership Hull City, we are lacking the lung bursting runs he offered down the left hand side. Andy was never going to be easy to replace, a player with the ability to step up from the 4th tier, make the starting line up, play with ease, get his first u21 call up then go onto getting his first senior International call up all inside a year comes along once in a generation.
It would be unfair to say his replacement, Conor Townsend, on loan from Hull as part of the deal that seen Robertson move south, is not up to the task, in the couple of games he has played he has looked very decent, but injuries have stunted his progress with us so far.
We also lost young starlet Ryan Gauld to Sporting. Some would argue as the season wore on, he was less effective and the impact of his loss on the first team was less than that of Robertson. Whilst yes, he fell away somewhat later in the season, you cannot argue that a talent such a Gauld is a loss to any club, especially at our level.
But lets not look at all the doom and gloom here. As I said, we are second top and but for a completely abject performance at Kilmarnock last Friday, we would have been top of the pile going into the break. We have beaten Dundee twice, demolished at Dens before a last minute sickner against them at Tannadice to put us through to the League Cup quarter final.
We have won games away at Aberdeen before sweeping aside St Johnstone at Tannadice, two teams who posed us major problems last season.
Our attacking play hasn’t been as fluent as last year, granted, but we are still winning games and grinding out results, a characteristic of a good team many would say.
Will the fluency of last season come back, are we yet to click? We will find out soon enough, but I would say the signs for the season ahead are good.
We are a different animal this season, some of the good points from last season may not be there but a lot of the bad have been ironed out.
Yes, there have been down points, the heavy 6-1 defeat at Parkhead and the manner of defeat at Rugby Park rankle, it’s not been all roses but at this point, the grading has got to be ‘good but could be better’.
What are your thoughts?