Jackie McNamara has urged his Dundee United players to seize their chance to become part of the club’s history when they take on St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup final on Saturday.
United have only won the Scottish Cup twice, and the majority of McNamara’s current squad were not part of the side that defeated Ross County in the 2010 final.
McNamara’s youthful team – including the likes of Andrew Robertson, Ryan Gauld, Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong – have earned plenty of plaudits for their performances this season.
And McNamara, who won the trophy twice while a player with Celtic, hopes they can finish the season with a final win at Celtic Park – the game has been moved from Hampden Park, which is undergoing refurbishment ahead of the Commonwealth Games – so they can have something to show for their efforts.
“That’s what it’s about, to win things,” he said. “As a footballer, that’s what you want to be remembered for.
“I’m always confident in the players. The lads have done fantastic this season with their work-rate and everything else they’ve put in.
“Every time I speak about them, I speak about what they’re good at, because I see them every day. I know their abilities and what they’re capable of doing.
“Some of them are having their first season in professional football and they’re in a Cup final. They maybe think it’s the norm. It’s John Rankin’s first final at 30 and he’ll want to go and cherish that as well.”
United have faced St Johnstone four times in the Scottish Premiership this season. However, after thrashing the Perth club 4-0 in their opening encounter, they have lost each of their last three meetings with the Saints.
Nevertheless, McNamara insists he isn’t fazed by this poor run of form.
“It doesn’t change anything. We both know what each side’s capable of,” the United boss said.
“I’m very wary of the way games have gone against them. There are things we need to be better at, things we need to do better, concentrate better and hope everybody plays to their capabilities.
“They’re strong, they’re experienced, they’re well organised. They don’t break their shape very often.
“We know what they’re capable of doing. We know we have to be very good on the day to beat them.”
– ‘Job not done’ –
Meanwhile, Saints boss Tommy Wright has warned his players not to be overawed by the occasion at Celtic Park as they attempt to win the trophy for the first time in St Johnstone’s 130-year history.
“Everyone has given us praise and plaudits for being the first St Johnstone team to get to the final,” Northern Irishman Wright said.
“We did ask them to create history by getting to the final but the job is not done because we want to be the first St Johnstone team to win it.
“You hear people say ‘we think your name is on the cup this year’ and there probably has been that thought for a while.
“There is a level of excitement which has built up over the last seven days and the players are aware of the occasion and what it would mean to the club,” added Wright, with Saints, a club with an average attendance of less than 4,000, set to take 15,000 fans to Glasgow’s East End for the game.
“But when the whistle goes the players will only be concentrating on trying to win a game of football.
“You have to make sure they don’t let the occasion take over because if that happens, Dundee United are a very good side and we will end up not winning the cup.
“So we have to enjoy and embrace the occasion but don’t be overcome by it.”
Saints will be without Tim Clancy for the final after he was injured in training while United, who will take close to 30,000 supporters to the game, expect injury doubts Mackay-Steven and John Souttar to be available.