Was Saturday the final straw for Dundee United supporters?

The 3-0 defeat marked two years of troubles at Tannadice.

Falkirk 3-0 Dundee United
SNS

Storm clouds gathered over Falkirk on Saturday as 828 cold, wet Dundee United fans were subjected to what Ray McKinnon called the most "inept performance of the season".

There was a lack of direction as they fell 3-0 to Championship rivals Falkirk, marking yet another dire result, and darkly ironic anniversary, in their recent history.

Tuesday marks two years to the day United's downward spiral began and so far, there have been few signs of a turnaround.

On February 14, 2015 the Tannadice side sat fourth in the Scottish Premiership. They had a League Cup final to look forward to and had just opened their Scottish Cup campaign with a 3-0 win against Stranraer.

There was trouble ahead though.

Star duo Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong had just been sold to Celtic, raising questions over the club's ambitions, and fellow fans' favourite Nadir Ciftci was not far behind.

They went on a run of 10 games without a win and then finished the season with just three victories in 18 - a stark difference to the first half of the campaign where they consistently kept Celtic off the top of the table.

Fast forward to February 2017 and not only have those storm clouds barely shifted, they're growing with anger and menace.

They've suffered relegation, two changes in management with Jackie McNamara and Mixu Paatelainen both failing to turn things around and a long line of underachieving players working their way along the club's conveyor belt.

L-R: Stephen Thompson, Jackie McNamara, Mixu Paatlenainen
L-R: Stephen Thompson, Jackie McNamara, Mixu Paatlenainen SNS

With the exception of the Challenge Cup, the only glory Dundee United can still enjoy this season is promotion back to the Premiership but even then things would have to radically change.

There's an identity crisis at Tannadice right now. Players, manager and opposition have come and gone, but the one recurring theme is the hugely unpopular Stephen Thompson is still pulling the strings.

Saturday's defeat saw fans stream out of the ground after just an hour while the ones who stayed displayed an even stronger mix of anger and despair at the current situation than previous poor results.

It sparked furious online debate that fans should hit the chairman in the pocket by no longer going to games while others argued this is the time to stand up to him and force the board out.

What's the alternative though?

Jim Spence came in as a consultant to help cool tensions between the club and fans after relegation but just weeks after his contract ended it was clear rocky relationships were still unresolved.

The Federation of Dundee United Supporters' Clubs removed themselves from the Supporters' Liaison Group earlier this month, showing there continues to be unrest between those who pull the strings.

Arabs celebrated Christmas by moving top of the Championship but have since gone on to win just one of their subsequent seven games. They've taken four points from 18 while Hibs have collected 14 and closest play-off rivals Falkirk and Morton have both won 13.

The cracks are getting bigger.

Simon Murray opened the scoring on Christmas Eve, the day Dundee United went top of the table.
Simon Murray opened the scoring on Christmas Eve, the day Dundee United went top of the table. SNS

Many would argue the alarm bells should have gone off when they fell 3-0 to Hibs at the turn of the year but the reinforcements didn't arrive in the January transfer window. Just two loan players entered the fray but despite links to Mackay-Steven and Ciftci returning on loan, they failed to get a big name signing to lift the support.

The worry now for United fans is they replicate Hibs and suffer a prolonged spell in the lower divisions.

Last season the Easter Road side were equal on points with league leaders Rangers at Christmas but by the time April came around they'd slipped to third in the table with a staggering 20 point gap between them.

It's crucial United turn a corner now if they want to avoid a similar demise.

Supporters are witnessing the glory days of being the biggest side in Dundee, one of the dominating sides in Scotland, and for a spell even competing on the European stage, come to an end.

Now automatic promotion to the Premiership looks to be a fading dream.

Is there a turning point ahead or are these the opening years of long term pain at Tannadice? Continued frustration and disillusionment will only make February 2015 grow in significance as a key point in the club's recent history.

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