Assessing the quality of a team after the first match is always a difficult affair.
I have seen Notts County tipped for both promotion and relegation in various papers so clearly the pundits don’t know how good they might be. And when they have a man sent off after 15 minutes it makes a judgement of United’s performance even more uncertain.
But even when it was 11 v 11 United’s new style was plain to see. From the kick off the ball was passed amongst the back four until it could be worked upfield.
The wide players came looking for the ball, swapping positions regularly, which is something Danny Wilson never would have permitted.
Doyle and McGinn were always available for a pass and Kevin McDonald enjoyed himself playing further forward.
The full backs were encouraged to get forward in the knowledge that the two central midfielders were always there to provide cover.
Not once did any of the defenders play the ball long from the back towards Chris Porter – any long passes came across the field, switching play from one wing to the other.
If there was to be any real criticism it would be the lack of real chances until right at the end, and sometimes when a good position to cross into the area appeared to have been worked the ball was played back and across the pitch.
A few predictions; United will have one of the best defensive records in the division but will not be up amongst the leading scorers. Daryl Westlake will keep Tony McMahon out of the team when he gets fit, and Marcus Williams will repay the faith shown in him by the new manager (why did the previous manager send him to the doghouse?) by creating goals from marauding his runs down the wing.
Febian Brandy will become several things: a crowd favourite, a marked man (by both defenders and referees) and the most fouled player in the division. McDonald will make double figures in goals (he’ll need to, because it’s still hard to see where they are going to come from otherwise, unless Brandy and Murphy can get a few).
Chris Porter will start at centre forward for the foreseeable future, allowing Lyle Taylor to get his feet under the table by coming on for the last 25 minutes every week. Finally, two or three players will leave by the end of August, either on long-term loans or by being released from their contracts.