By Craig Turnbull
Mixu Paatelainen says it’s time to pay back the fans for their unwavering support this season by giving them a Scottish Cup final to look forward to at the end of what has been a “horrendous” campaign for Dundee United.
Relegation looms large for United, who are eight points adrift of Kilmarnock in the Scottish Premiership relegation play-off spot.
It would take an unbelievable turn of events to preserve their Premiership status, with just five games left in the season.
But they’ve got the opportunity to at least put a hint of a smile back on the fans’ faces, who’ve endured so much, by booking their place in the Scottish Cup final by beating Hibernian at Hampden on Saturday.
And Paatelainen has urged his players to do just that.
“Our supporters have been brilliant with the way they have supported the team,” Paatelainen said.
“We’ve had a horrendous season this season. It hasn’t been the season that anybody anticipated or anybody wanted.
“Yet, in every match our supporters turn out in big numbers.
“They really back the team. You only need to go back to the midweek fixture against Partick Thistle – the way our supporters filled the main stand was fantastic. I can’t ask for anymore.
“It is a real shame that our performances haven’t matched that of the support.
“Saturday is a big one for us, we want to repay them and send them home happy with something to look forward to after a painful season.
“The players know exactly how our supporters have been there for us so hopefully it’s payback time.”
Gavin Gunning and Mark Durnan (suspended) won’t be available for United but they have received a huge boost ahead of the match as midfielder Paul Paton is available.
“Paul has been magnificent for us this season,” Paatelainen said.
“He’s a leader, not only by has actual performances but also vocally. His crunching tackles are vitally important for us, so we’re delighted Paul is available and fit enough to play.”