Danny Wilson believes Dundee United prodigies Ryan Gauld and John Souttar are correct to stay at Tannadice because their club has shown genuine desire to keep them.
The Hearts captain says handing the young pair new contracts proves United’s commitment to their youth academy graduates, despite interest from clubs in England and abroad.
Wilson joined Liverpool aged 18 to sample life at one of the world’s most reputable clubs and is better placed than anyone to offer an opinion on such a move. He hinted that Rangers did not do enough to keep him at the time, with the Glasgow club understood to have offered a sub-standard new contract. Now back in Scotland, the defender is pleased to see United retaining their biggest assets, even though it makes Hearts’ trip to Tannadice all the more difficult this afternoon.
Both Real Madrid and Manchester United are said to be monitoring Gauld, whilst Souttar rejected a £600,000 move to Sunderland just a few weeks ago because he felt his development would be better served on Tayside.
“I don’t really like commenting on other people because you never really know what their situation is,” said Wilson. “You don’t know whether the club is fighting to keep them or what the situation is. The United lads all seem to be in a good place just now. They’re all playing well and playing regularly so that seems to be the right decision for them.
“I feel I benefited from my time in England. Other people might not feel I did, but that’s the thing, everybody’s situation is different. Ryan Gauld and players like that have been linked here, there and everywhere. I suppose it could be a bit unsettling for them but if Dundee United really want to keep them, which I imagine they do if they’ve all signed new contracts, I don’t see any problem with them staying.”
Wilson was not short on advice as he contemplated swapping Ibrox for Anfield in 2010, but he listened only to a select few. “I think you need to just stick to people you know and trust. As soon as a young boy gets linked somewhere, 15 ex-pros come out and say they’re doing this right or that wrongly.
“A lot of them don’t really know what the full situation is. They might not be giving him the best advice. These boys have chosen to stay at United and they’re playing well. That’s the problem for us this weekend.”
Dundee United have lost just once in the league since August and have lashed home 13 goals in their last three matches. Wilson is acutely aware of the difficulties awaiting Hearts today following last weekend’s 7-0 Scottish Cup loss to Celtic. “I don’t think we’ve had an easy game this season. It wouldn’t matter who we’re playing this weekend because we have a big task to try and get ourselves back on track,” he acknowledged. “Everybody knows United have good players, but they all seem to be playing well at the same time right now. It’s going to be tough for us.
“They drew at Parkhead the other week. They have a good team and good individuals. We can’t really focus too much on them, though. Ryan Gauld does look pretty dangerous, but we’ve got to get ourselves back on track. We’ll have a gameplan and we’ll try and stick to it.”
Hearts enter the match looking to close a 12-point deficit at the bottom of the table and Wilson stressed that the squad’s lack of experience cannot be offered as an excuse for poor results. “People were maybe being kind to us by making excuses about youth,” he continued. “That’s got to go out the window now. We need to just remember what we are and go forward with what we’ve got.
“I think the younger boys here know that. It can’t be easy for them because people are making excuses for them, but I’ve not heard a young boy come out and say, ‘I’m young and this shouldn’t be happening to me at this stage in my career’.
“They’re all happy enough to be playing and the have the opportunity to put last Sunday right.”