• STV
  • MySTV

Difficult December will map out Paatelainen's plan to save Dundee Utd

Signs of encouragement for Tannadice coach despite St Johnstone loss.

Mixu Paatelainen saw his side fall to defeat to St Johnstone.
Mixu Paatelainen saw his side fall to defeat to St Johnstone. SNS Group

You know what they say about rainbows; you cant have them unless you put up with some rain, and for Dundee United fans it has certainly been a long, wet season so far.

In saying that, though, there have been glimmers of hope in the distance as they start to fight their way out of the painstakingly bleak spell which has left them propping up the Scottish Premiership table.

Saturday's 2-1 defeat to St Johnstone was not just another poor result against their bogey team, it was another occasion where the Saints came from behind to take all three points. Memories of Jackie McNamara's last game in charge, just eight weeks ago, came flooding back too soon for the Arabs.

With Partick Thistle's win against Inverness Caledonian Thistle, United were left six points adrift and gearing up for a series of crunch fixtures in December. Kilmarnock, Partick Thistle and Motherwell, the three teams directly above them in the table, will come up against Mixu Paatelainen's side before the New Year bells.

It's a string of games that could make or break their season and also map out what the new manager has to do during the January transfer window.

There were of course some positives to take out of Saturday as the Tayside club produced an exciting first-half performance and several chances on target, along with a new-look formation which they had long been crying out for during McNamara's tenure.

They're still having problems defending set pieces though, and are struggling to replicate their good 45-minute spell over the full 90.

Paatelainen opted for a 3-4-2-1 formation at the weekend but still looked light in midfield. That could change when the likes of Chris Erskine and Paul Paton return from injury but it also in turn showed how vital John Rankin has been this season.

Playing in a more attacking role than he has been used to recently, the 32-year-old was a stand-out yet again, causing St Johnstone problems. With his contract up this summer, tying him to new deal should be a priority in a side lacking leaders and experience.

The club are still waiting to complete the signing of Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, but Paatelainen might be better strengthening from the front first.

The fans were left infuriated by his failure to introduce a striker when they were chasing the game, asking questions of whether Simon Murray has failed to impress in training. Mario Bilate has already departed the club, Darko Bodul has been given permission to follow while Adam Taggart didnt even make the bench on Saturday.

Florent Sinama Pongolle has been on trial at Tannadice, but whether it's him or another goalscorer who puts pen to paper, it shows support and back-up for Billy McKay is high on the manager's January shopping list.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check. That e-mail's already in our system. Please try again.
ShowHide
Forgot password?
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long. Did you enter your details correctly?
If you've forgotten your details then use the 'Forgot password?' link.
Need to reset your password?

We'll send a link to reset your password to

We've sent you details on how to reset your password

Please check your email and follow the instructions.

Forgotten your email address?

Have you forgotten the email address that you previously joined with? Don't worry, by emailing enquiries@stv.tv we can help.

One account. All of STV.

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This must be at least 6 characters long.
ShowHide
This field is required. This must be at least 6 characters long.
You must be over 16 to join STV.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date
We need this to check that you live in an STV region.
This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid postcode
Would you like us to email you about our great shows and services from time to time?
We'll only send emails we think you'll like (see example) based on information you have supplied and shows you have watched on STV Player. For details on emails and advertising, see our STV & You page.
Would you like to receive emails from the Scottish Children's Lottery about draws, instant games and competitions?
We support the Scottish Children's Lottery (SCL), which is managed by our colleagues at STV ELM Ltd. You can find out more about the SCL on its website, including its Privacy Policy.

By continuing you agree to our Terms of Use, and understand our Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Upload Profile Picture

Please make sure your image is under 2mb in size and a valid JPG, PNG or GIF.

Are you sure?

Unfortunately, you'll be unable to access our premium content. We’ll be sorry to see you go, but if you change your mind you can rejoin us at any time.

Please verify your STV account

Please verify your STV account using the email we sent you. If you have lost the email, we can send you another one, just click the button below.

Thanks

We've sent you a new verification email.
Please check your email and follow the instructions to verify your account.

Welcome to STV
Thanks for joining us.

Oops!

Sorry, you must be at least 12 years old to place a vote for your Real Hero.

Please review our Voting Terms of Use for more information.

Oops!

Sorry! It seems that you are using a browser that is incompatible with our voting service.

To register your vote please copy the below URL in to your regular mobile browser. We recommend Google Chrome, or Safari.

http://shows.stv.tv/real-heroes/voting

Oops!

Sorry, you seem to have already voted in this category.

Thanks for voting

Now share your vote with friends on your social network

Share on twitter Share on facebook

Cast your vote

Please register or sign in to continue.

Cast your vote

This field is required. This doesn't appear to be a valid date

Cast your vote

Please fill out this form to cast your vote. As you are under 16 years old you will not create an STV account. Why do we need these details?

This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. Please enter at least 2 characters
This field is required. That doesn't look like a valid e-mail format, please check.
Location This field is required.
Parental Consent This field is required.

That's you. All that's left is to click the 'Submit Vote' button below. By doing so, you confirm that you and your parent or guardian have read and accept our Voting Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Cookie policy, and that the details you have entered are correct. We'll look after them as carefully as if they were our own.