skip to content
Houston wants more of the same from players
Dundee United manager Peter Houston has challenged his players to repeat their European exploits when they kick off their Clydesdale Bank Premier League campaign against Hibernian.
Willo Flood and Keith Watson both gave United the lead against Dinamo Moscow on Thursday night before a deflected strike in injury-time secured the Russian side a 2-2 draw.
Houston was delighted with the spirit and sharpness of his side in their Europa League opener and would settle for a similar performance in the home clash against Pat Fenlon's side.
"I said to the players that if you play like that every single week in the SPL, we'll win a lot of games," Houston said.
"That's the kind of attitude and spirit we have to show every week.
"We have got to quickly put it behind us for a week. We have got a massive game against Hibs on Sunday and we're looking forward to it."
Houston added: "I'm encouraged by the start we have had. I've always said we have got a small squad but on our day we can beat anybody.
"If we play like that every day, that's all I can ask.
"The pre-season has gone well, we have built up strongly. We played well against Everton, although we lost the game in the last minute.
"If you can play a quality side like Dinamo Moscow, score a couple of goals and maybe could have scored another one or two, you will do okay.
"We got stronger in the second half as well, our energy levels were high towards the end of the game.
"We looked sharp and we'll get more sharpness about us."
Polish goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak made an impressive debut but Houston's other three summer signings - Brian McLean, Michael Gardyne and Mark Millar - were left on the bench.
And despite losing several key players for the second successive summer, Houston is happy with his squad.
"I never used a sub the other night," Houston said. "I have got Michael Gardyne, who will come on and score goals.
"I have got Mark Millar who can play like Richie Ryan in the middle of the park.
"I have got Ryan Dow who can do what Gary Mackay-Steven can do, albeit with the right foot."
Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon believes his side are good enough to improve on last season, but admitted he would like to add to his squad after their opening fixture on Sunday.
Fenlon took over at Easter Road last November but could only guide Hibs to an 11th-placed finish, something he knows must be bettered this year.
"We have got to improve, with the squad we have we have got to improve and if we can add to that we have to set ourselves a better target," he said.
"We have a tough start there is no doubt about that, with Dundee United away and then Hearts at home, so they are two tough games. But you have to play them all at some stage so maybe playing them early on won't be a bad thing.
"We have just got to make sure we are competitive in all our games - we gave way too many easy goals last year and didn't stay in games for long enough and we have got to change that."
Fenlon lost a raft of players over the course of the summer and, despite bringing in five fresh faces, the 43-year-old is still looking to add experience to his squad.
Midfielder Mark Kerr and former Hearts defender Alan Maybury have been training with the Hibs squad and could be the men to bolster Fenlon's options.
Fenlon said of his squad: "I think the players we have here are definitely prepared, they have worked hard and fitness-wise they are good - from that point of view we are okay.
"I think we are still short in relation to numbers of what we need so we are still working away on that to be honest, we are hopeful to get something over the line fairly quickly.
"We have got a good group of players at the moment but we are a bit short in certain areas and we have some young boys in there, so if we can add to that then I would be happy with us moving forward."
Hibs have to wait an extra day to get their SPL campaign under way as Dundee United played a Europa League qualifier against Dinamo Moscow at Tannadice on Thursday.
© 2004 - 2014 football.co.uk