Dundee United duly obliged for the column last weekend with a facile 3-0 win over Rangers in the Scottish Cup. It was, as predicted, the perfect start for Jackie McNamara in his new role as Dundee United manager and this weekend he faces his first SPL match as a manager when his side host Hearts at Tannadice. These matches or often very close encounters and McNamara will be making his players aware of that fact despite such a convincing win last time out. Dundee United know they have to improve their league form and regain some sort of consistency if they want to climb the table. A win on Saturday could see them jump a couple of places to fifth and it could also continue the good feeling surrounding the club since the new manager was appointed.
Hearts’ season has been memorable for a lot of the wrong reasons with so many problems off the park taking precedence over their fortunes on the field. They also had to suffer the fate of exiting the Scottish Cup – a competition they won last season – to their arch rivals, Hibs. A lot of that has been forgotten about, however, after Hearts reached the final of the League Cup with a penalties win over Inverness at the end of the last month. They will face St Mirren on St Patrick’s day in a bid to lift a trophy for the second successive season but they too must improve their league form. Level on points with this weekend’s opponents, Hearts have one win in their last five and coincidentally, that came against the other Dundee club.
It’s a match which is sure to be competitive as there is very little between the sides, evidenced by both being level on points and with almost identical goal differences. Hearts have picked up four points from their last two league games following their semi-final victory and head to Dundee knowing they have not lost any of their last three games at Tannadice. Dundee United were impressive in their win over Rangers and could have scored more. If they can repeat that performance on Saturday then I’m confident they will pose the Hearts defence problems. I’m putting faith in McNamara continuing with his excellent start by leading his players to all three points.
Dundee United 8/5 @ William Hill