Since the appointment of Jackie McNamara, Dundee United have been a really solid outfit in the Scottish Premiership. United have recently came into the headlines after several youth players have came into the first team and impressed, quite right so I must add. McNamara has been able to find time for the youth players, and to give them a chance to gain some much needed experience. As well as still using some of the more senior players available to him, United’s average age is decreasing all the time, with the endless supply of talented youngsters.
The most promising player at United is 17 year old Ryan Gauld, who has been likened to Lionel Messi already. He has been a stand out in most of the games he has played, and last weekend, he assisted all 4 of United’s goals. Gauld is an extremely exciting player, who loves to get the ball at his feet and run at the opposing defenders. He has a good turn of pace about him and has great vision, enabling him to open up defensive lines with ease. Real Madrid have reportedly watched him a couple of times this season, so the boy clearly has talent. Don’t get me wrong, United have dipped into the transfer market as well, and one of their new recruits is 21 year old Nadir Ciftci. Ciftci is best as a striker, and although he has a bit of a temperament, he is another exciting player. He is able to hold up the ball, he is good in the air, and has the ability to run defenders ragged. He has a good eye for goal as well. Recently United played Celtic at Celtic Park, and I was highly impressed with Ciftci. Going back to McNamara, I believe he is doing a fantastic job. The way in which he sets up his team is to attack, which is the way it should be in my opinion, regardless of who you are playing.
This impressive, quick, inventive attacking football has caught the eye of many fans across Scotland recently. What I like most about MacNamara though is his confidence in the youngsters. Where else do you see so many youth players breaking into the first team and doing so well? The players won’t stop coming through anytime soon either, as United have a good system set up to keep producing talented players. Ciftci and Gauld are only to name two, but there are many more who are in the first team who have been brought through the ranks. Andrew Robertson, John Souttar, Stuart Armstrong and Gary Mackay-Steven (although signed from Airdrie) have all been key players this season for United.
If they continue this rich vein of form, then I’m confident that they’ll finish second only to Celtic. Neil Lennon should be looking at United and McNamara as inspiration to blood youngsters more often. Let’s face it, the league was won before a ball was kicked in the league, it’s only a matter of time before its secured. So there is absolutely no reason whatsoever not to be playing young players. Get them in the team, and try them out. Lennon seems reluctant to try any youth players out at the moment, even when the majority of the senior players are playing terribly.
A perfect example of this is James Keatings, who was released by Celtic in the summer and snapped up by Hamilton Accies. Keatings was a promising player in the Celtic reserves, but was hampered by a few injuries, but nonetheless Celtic deemed him not good enough to make it. Since signing for Hamilton, Keatings has scored for fun. He should have had more of a chance at Celtic in my opinion, but this is the sort of thing that can happen if you don’t try out youth players. The amount of talent in the Celtic reserve team is incredible, and now more than ever, it is the time to bring in fresh faces and young players who will give 110% in every game to prove their worth. Take a page out of McNamara's book, Lennon. You’ll not regret it.