Five things we learned from Dundee United 2, Hearts 1

BARRY ANDERSON gives his take on Hearts' 2-1 defeat to Dundee United at Tannadice ..

By The Newsroom
Monday, 22nd February 2016, 1:50 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd February 2016, 1:55 pm
Dundee United's Florent Sinama-Pongolle consoles Hearts' Jordan McGhee after was sent off
Dundee United's Florent Sinama-Pongolle consoles Hearts' Jordan McGhee after was sent off

Another red card for Hearts

Jordan McGhee became the seventh Tynecastle player red-carded this season, although not for the first time it was ill-deserved. The defender received two yellow cards, the first for persistent fouling and the second for a fair tackle on Dundee United’s Edward Ofere. Video footage appeared to show McGhee playing the ball but referee Kevin Clancy ordered him off, leaving Hearts to play with ten men yet again. If anyone will be campaigning for touchline video replays to help referees during matches, it will surely be Robbie Neilson.

Abiola Dauda needs a partner

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Hearts’ Nigerian striker has still to reach top gear since arriving in Edinburgh on loan from Vitesse Arnhem. His mobility and finishing are among his best attributes but he is far more useful with another forward alongside him. Juanma would be a decent foil as a focal point of the attack, although Gavin Reilly may be more inclined to link up with Dauda in a two-man partnership. It will be interesting to see who, if anyone, lines up alongside Duada when Kilmarnock visit Tynecastle on Saturday.

Tannadice pitch

Threadbare and bumpy, although that could be said about a few surfaces following the recent cold spell in Scotland. Winter has taken its toll but Dundee United adapted better than Hearts did and recorded a potentially vital 2-1 win. Mixu Paatelainen prefers his teams to pass the ball, so the sooner the pitch is repaired the better.

United need to abandon three-at-the-back to have any hope of staying up

One thing Paatelainen has control over in his team and tactics. His persistence with a three-man defence is strange given the absence of top-quality centre-backs at Tannadice. A flat back-four would give greater protection to Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, and offer United a firm base from which to go forward. Whether Paatelainen agrees is an entirely different matter.

Only the second Hearts league loss since September

Hearts were disappointing at the weekend, especially in the first half with 11 men. Their fighting spirit after the break with a man less was admirable and, but for Paul Paton’s exquisite winning goal, they would have taken a hard-earned point home. It was only the second league defeat since September for the Edinburgh club and they remain comfortably in third place in the Premiership. Those questioning the management team just now should bear that in mind.