Despite some bad luck along the way, there’s no denying that defensive frailties and inexperience were really what cost Dundee United their place in the Ladbrokes Premiership last season. But with new boss Ray McKinnon ringing the changes this summer, brighter times look to be ahead.
The 45-year-old led Raith Rovers to the Ladbrokes Championship play-offs last season, building an exciting yet robust outfit who finished the regular season with an 11-game unbeaten run, in which they won eight times.
While United dropped 27 points from winning positions last season, they now have a manager who has built his reputation on creating sides with the fitness and focus to edge games in the latter stages – with Raith scoring nine goals beyond the 80-minute mark in last season’s league campaign.
But while McKinnon is surely the biggest acquisition of the summer at Tannadice, there have been several noteworthy buys on the field too.
Former Scotland international keeper Cammy Bell joins from Rangers, providing crucial quality in an area where the Terrors have struggled in recent years – and he’s part of a bid to strengthen the spine of this side.
The dependable Willo Flood returns for a third spell on Tayside, while fellow midfielder Nick van der Velden will be among the most talented players in the division, having been snapped up from Eredivisie heavyweights Willem II.
And in true United fashion, there’s also a slew of young talents set to break into the first-team, and with McKinnon having plenty of experience in developing raw but skilful players, the Tangerines’ youth is sure to flourish.
The likes of Charlie Telfer, Justin Johnson, and Ali Coote will add both pace and creativity – the former being an especially useful asset in a league with part-time sides like Dumbarton, who arguably struggle to match the fitness of the full-time teams.
And things already seem to be clicking for United under McKinnon, who have come up trumps in all three of their League Cup games so far – including a shoot-out victory at Inverness CT and a 6-1 thumping of Cowdenbeath, which saw up-and-coming striker Simon Murray bag a stellar hat-trick.
The odds suggest Hibernian are favourites to lift this season’s Ladbrokes Championship title, but Dundee United’s impressive summer business, highly-rated new gaffer and stellar start to the competitive season makes them fantastic value for the league crown at 5/2.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing