Home » Scottish Championship: Dundee Utd on title brink, but why so little fanfare?

Scottish Championship: Dundee Utd on title brink, but why so little fanfare?

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Scottish Championship: Dundee Utd on title brink, but why so little fanfare?

Venue: Tannadice Park, Dundee Date: Saturday, 20 April Kick-off: 15:00 BSTCoverage: Listen to commentary on BBC Scotland & BBC Sounds and follow text updates on BBC Sport website and app.

Dundee United are tantalisingly close to an immediate return to the Scottish Premiership, with somewhere in the region of 10,000 fans expecting to watch them effectively clinch the title against Ayr United on Saturday.

Such love for their team hasn’t always been in the air this term, though.

United have already accumulated five more points than their city rivals did in their title triumph last season – with three games left to play – but Tannadice hasn’t always seemed a happy place.

Three defeats in six games across February and March didn’t help, but those seem small blotches on an otherwise mighty impressive report card. So why has it not always felt that way?

Manager Jim Goodwin said on Friday that he isn’t looking for “too many pats on the back” as United are “where everybody would expect us to be”. But, on closer inspection, they have got there in some style.

Dundee United? Or Real Madrid?

Championship veteran Ryan Stevenson compared United to Real Madrid on the Scottish Football Podcast.

And, although United do have a 100% competitive record against Barcelona, Stevenson was actually alluding to the ability of Carlo Ancelotti’s side to turn up at the key points of the season. Just like Goodwin’s lot.

Just when things started to get tickly in the Championship – with Raith Rovers just a point behind with a game in hand – United found an extra gear to upholster an already-impressive season of statistics and pull clear.

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They’ve scored 11 goals in their last three games, two of which came in a win over their title rivals from FifeGoodwin’s side conceded just once in that time – and their tally of 22 goals against is bettered only by Falkirk in the SPFLIt puts them within sight of beating the best Championship mark in the past decade – 25 by Hibernian in 2016-17United have scored 68 goals, a tally only bettered in recent times by Rangers in 2015-16Outside the Old Firm, only Falkirk have scored more this seasonAttacking quartet Louis Moult, Tony Watt, Kai Fotheringham and Glenn Middleton have 44 league goals between them – more than six other teams have managed in totalUnited have won a club-record 12 away games this season

That Raith have managed to keep pace for so long is testament to the fine season enjoyed by Ian Murray’s side.

Perhaps the inability to shake off the Fifers has played its part in the anxiety that has clouded United for much of the term. So, too, has disappointing cup exits to League 1 sides.

Two defeats in their direct meetings with their title rivals and another abject reverse in Fife against Dunfermline Athletic last month allowed Raith to keep in touch. As did a home humbling by Airdrieonians around the same time.

However, Murray’s men were equally fragile in that time, culminating in the 2-0 defeat at Tannadice that gave United the impetus.

“My players were able to handle that level of scrutiny that came on us,” Goodwin said on Friday. “It shows you the character in there that they can get through that difficult period and finish the season strongly.”

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Rovers ‘ 1-0 win away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle on Friday means United cannot officially secure the title the following day, but such is their superior goal difference that one more win will get the job done without relying on the Kirkcaldy side slipping up any further.

United will want to do it in style and under their own steam, but a closer look at the numbers shows that their campaign has been a hugely-impressive one.

Dundee United forward Tony Watt takes BBC Sport Scotland to meet his pet chickens.

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