Dundee United goalkeeper Mark Birighitti is determined to repay the faith of new manager Jim Goodwin after his difficult start to life in the “brutal” Scottish top flight.
Goodwin restored Birighitti to the number one role after the Australian lost his place for Liam Fox’s final match in charge.
The 31-year-old paid a heavy price for dallying on the ball after getting a short goal kick back when St Johnstone striker Stevie May slid in for a tackle that proved to be a match-winner.
Birighitti recovered quickly from the resulting shoulder injury that forced him off but was sidelined in favour of Jack Newman the following weekend, only for United to lose 4-0 against Ross County.
Goodwin backed the Australia international though, and blocked attempts by the club to sign another goalkeeper, and Birighitti is eager to repay the Irishman by helping United get off the bottom of the cinch Premiership.
Birighitti, who arrived from Central Coast Mariners last summer and is now playing under a third United manager, told DUTV: “From my experience so far, it’s a brutal league. It’s very physical. You don’t have time to think about making decisions on the field.
“Back home in Australia as a goalkeeper you have time on the ball to pick passes and play through the lines. Here I feel you don’t get as much time, you get pressed quite a bit.
“It’s something I am starting to get used to and acclimatise to.
“I am working hard day in, day out to rectify those little mistakes that have creeped into my game.
“For me, it’s simple, it’s working hard, coming into training day in, day out trying to be the best version of yourself, working hard, training hard. That’s the only way you are going to reap rewards. There is no easy recipe for succeeding.”
Birighitti’s early games included a 7-0 defeat by AZ Alkmaar during Jack Ross’s brief tenure.
“It was a tricky start, moving to a different country, a new environment, a new league,” he said.
“I’m not going to shy away, I had a tough start to life in Scotland.
“But it’s always nice to have the backing from the manager. It’s up to me to repay that faith and put in performances that can help the team.”
Birighitti believes he can cope with the pressure as United bid to get out of relegation trouble.
“Obviously criticism is part and parcel of being a footballer,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of outside noise and I’m experienced enough to know how to deal with that sort of stuff.
“It’s not only me, I’m sure every player in that dressing room gets criticised at some point in their career. I’m mature enough to know how to deal with that situation.
“I have good people around me and a good manager that backs me. I want to repay that faith to the manager because he is a fantastic guy and a fantastic coach and the lads are enjoying working with him.”
The keeper explained Goodwin’s key message.
“It’s about getting the basics right, peeling the layers back and making sure we do the basics 100 per cent,” he said. “If we can do that, the rest will take care of itself.
“The key message has been competing and working hard and if we do that we give ourselves every opportunity to get out of the position we are in.”