By Far The Greatest Team

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By Far MY Greatest Team: Dundee United 2010 – Part 1

I have been writing for By Far The Greatest Team for months now, and during that time I have written about some pretty impressive teams, both nationally and internationally. During that time, I have never written about the team that I consider to be the greatest. Dundee United’s Scottish Cup winning side from the 2009/10 season. I concede, they were not the greatest team in the world. Even in the past decade of watching my beloved Dundee United, the team from 2014 were perhaps easier on the eye, but the 2010 Scottish Cup winning side created a bit of history at Hampden on May 15th, 2010. Who were those eleven men that gave the 27,000 travelling Dundee United fans one of the greatest days of their lives? How did they do on the day? What have they done since? Let’s find out…

GK Dušan Perniš

Dušan Perniš did not receive the warmest welcome to Tannadice Park, as he was signed on a pre contract which saw him arrive in January 2010. The reason for this was that Nicky Weaver had been brought in for the first half of the season and had done a wonderful job, so there was some doubts over the Englishman’s replacement. Dušan proved the haters wrong, however. A clean sheet in his opening game against Partick certainly helped matters. Perniš became an important player in the Arabs team, proving a steady presence at the back, despite his poor grasp of the English language. He may not have been the most mobile goalkeeper the world has ever seen, but his large frame certainly helped fill the goal. In Dundee United’s Scottish Cup run, he only let in three goals, all of these in a 3-3 draw against Rangers. He marshalled his goal area wonderfully in the final, ensuring that the Ross County fans had very little to sing about. His spell at Dundee United was undoubtedly the most fruitful period of Dušan’s career, he won the Scottish Cup final, played in European fixtures and had a real go at breaking the Old Firm duopoly at the top of the SPL. Perniš was a fringe player for his native Slovakia, amassing seven appearances since 2004. Dušan left in summer of 2012 after the announcement by Dundee United that they would be signing Polish goalkeeper Radoslaw Cierzniak. Aged 32, the Slovakian stopper has forged on with his career, playing for Pogoń Szczechin, Slovan Bratislava and Iraklis since his departure from Tannadice in 2012. He can now be found turning out for Bulgarian club Beroe Stara Zagora.

RB Seán Dillon

Dundee United signed Irish defender Seán Dillon in January 2007, and proved to be one of former manager Craig Levein’s most influential signings ever. It was a shaky start for Dillon, who was thrown into a defence who were slowly improving, but still shaking off the defensive frailties which had plagued them under former manager Craig Brewster. Dillon took a lot of flak in those early days, with some fans furious that a team of Dundee United’s stature hadn’t signed a modern day Franz Beckenbaurer. Dillon was always the consummate professional, not letting the opinions of the fans get him down. After years of hard work, and the disappointment of missing the 2008 League Cup final, he got his start in the 2010 final. He pitched in with a strong interception in the early build up to the teams first goal. Following the cup final win, Dillon was taken into the hearts of the United fans. He was a right back by trade, but in the seasons following that Scottish Cup win, he endured the most consistent period of his career playing at centre back. Such was his versatility that he even had stints playing at left back and defensive midfield during his tenure at the club. Sean was made club captain at the beginning of the 2013-14 season, after the departure of Jon Daly to the newly formed Glasgow Rangers. In 2017 Seán Dillon was awarded a testimonial match against Hearts, featuring teammates both new and old. United drew the game 2-2, with Sean’s six year old son Shea scoring the equaliser, with some help from former United fan favourite Noel Hunt. Dillon was unfortunately injured for the game, managing only the kick off before being subbed off. The 2016-17 season was Dillon’s final one for Dundee United, signing for League 2 team Montrose that summer. After taking a lot of heat from the fans in the early day, Seán Dillon will be remembered more for being a solid defender, a silver kisser and above all, a truly great guy.

CB Andy Webster

The story of Andy Webster is a sad one, really. A wonderful passer of the ball, a monster in the air and a real leader on the pitch. After a number of very successful years with Hearts, Webster left in unsavoury fashion, exiting his Hearts contract a season early, ensuing years of legal battles between player and club. All this tension was for very little, as Webster spent much of the next four years injured. He moved to Rangers in 2008, and was loaned to Dundee United in July 2009 on a season long loan. This was a move which reignited his career. He shored up the defence and proved to be a particularly erudite signing when centre back and captain Lee Wilkie retired mid-season as a result of his ongoing knee injuries. Due to being on loan from Rangers, Webster wasn’t able to play against his parent club in the 3-3 at Ibrox, as well as the dramatic last minute winner in the replay at Tannadice, where David “happy feet” Robertson used his butt to knock the ball past Allan McGregor. Webster made up for his absence by scoring a powerful header against Raith Rovers in the semi final. Webster was made club captain for the latter part of the season due to Wilkie’s retirement, and captained the side in the final. Despite being the new captain, Andy Webster was good enough to let Lee Wilkie walk his side out at Hampden that day. Dundee United tried to sign Webster permanently, but the Scottish internationalist had enjoyed such a good season that he wanted to go back to Rangers to try and break into the first team there. This didn’t materialise for Webster, who rejoined Hearts a year later, captaining them in their historic 5-1 Scottish Cup final victory over their rivals, Hibernian. In 2013, Webster made his return to English football, joining Coventry on a two year deal before finishing his career with St Mirren. Some moronic Dundee United fans did boo Webster on his return to Tannadice with Hearts, a hugely disrespectful gesture to the man who grabbed the team by the scruff of the neck in midseason and transformed them into that cup winning side.

CB Garry Kenneth

Big Kenza lived his dream. A huge (quite literally) Dundee United fan as a kid, he worked his way up through the clubs youth academy, earning a place in their first team, playing in two cup finals for the losing side before winning the biggest prize in Scottish football with his boyhood team in 2010. Despite a small loan spell at Cowdenbeath, the 6″4 shaven-headed centre back spent the bulk of eight years at Tannadice between 2004 and 2012. He was a conundrum for United fans, teammates and managers alike: he was both an assured player, with superhuman strength and one of the most powerful headers of the ball that I have ever seen. He was also, at times, an absolute liability, who seemed unable to think clearly in the heat of the moment. His time at Tannadice was full of highs and lows, but May 15th 2010 was undoubtedly a high. Against a dangerous Ross County attack featuring the likes of Michael Gardyne and Andrew Barrowman, Kenneth, partnering Webster at the back, didn’t give the opposition a sniff. The photo of him holding his arms aloft, the trophy in one hand is iconic – in Tayside anyway. Unfortunately, since he departed Tannadice in 2012, his career has declined in woeful fashion. He joined Bristol Rovers in the English League 2, already a massive step down considering that only a couple of years earlier the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United were allegedly weighing up a couple million pound bid for the big defender. After a decent start to the 2012/13 season, Kenneth picked up a knee injury which saw him ruled out for over a year. Since then, he has played lower league football in Australia for Adamstown Rosebud and in Latvia for Skonto Riga. He is now plying his trade for Douglas Amateurs. From such a promising start to his career, Kenneth is now effectively retired, such is the low level that he is playing at. He was once in diamond in the rough, now he is just a memory and a waste of talent.

LB Mihael Kovačević

The Swiss defender was not the number one left back in the 2010 season, but played the final due to the injury suffered by Paul Dixon. He was a right back by trade, but was required to play left back due to Dixon’s injury. Kovačević was another player who wasn’t exactly adored by the United fans upon his arrival, with the fullbacks style being more defensive than offensive. It was actually the run to the final which saw fans of the Arabs take to Kovačević. In the quarter final 3-3 draw at Ibrox, the defender scored a goal during the game, then lambasted both Kris Boyd for his embarrassing diving, and referee Dougie McDonald’s performance after the match. To further the cause, he put in a tackle in the cup quarter final replay against Rangers which saw himself become injured. He threw his body on the line to stop a certain goal, and this truly earned the respect of the Tangerine fans. Despite playing out of position against Ross County in the cup final, he was an assured presence at the back and dealt with everything thrown at him with ease. His played one more season for Dundee United after the cup final win, but spent most of that injured. He was also unable to drive during his final year, after being banned for speeding at 104mph in a 40mph zone. After his release from Dundee United, he signed for Croatian side NK Zadar, although amassed a lowly seven appearances. He returned to Scotland, playing two seasons for Ross County. He played the next two seasons in Bulgaria then Hungary, but struggled for game time. Mihael is only 29, but has not been signed to a team since 2015. He is another player who saw his career peak in 2010 with Dundee United, with injuries and bad luck plaguing him ever since.

RM Danny Swanson

Scottish midfielder Danny Swanson enjoyed one of the best spells of his career during his time at Tannadice, overcoming his reputation as a super-sub in his early days at United to cement himself as a first team regular in the 2009-10 season. Danny “Swanaldiho” Swanson was a frustrating player to watch at times; an immensely talented player with the ball at his feet, a constant red card threat if wound up, and, above all, one of the most unfit players to have graced the city of Dundee. He certainly was capable of twisting defenders inside out, and of his twelve goals, very few of them were tap ins! He didn’t exactly play a blinder in the final, his first half was lacklustre, in keeping with the whole team, but, once the second half kicked off, he came alive. He was the first player to be replaced for Dundee United in the final, being replaced by Scott Robertson. He was hugely involved in the after party, with him and striker David Goodwillie running around Tannadice with their shirts off, running wild with the trophy, much to the amusement of the fans gathered to see the homecoming hero’s. He played for two seasons after the cup victory, continuing to start games, helping United in their European qualifying games. He let his contract run down at United, opting to join Peterborough United on a two year deal. After initially struggling to adapt to the physical demands of the English Championship, he ended up amassing 62 games for The Posh. He rejected a contract extension at Peterborough, joining former English heavyweights Coventry City in 2014. This did not go to plan, and he joined St Johnstone on loan for the latter half of his year. He moved back to Scotland permanently in 2015, joining newly promoted Hearts, but left after five months to sign for St Johnstone. He allegedly fell out with Hearts coach Robbie Neilson, and was never adored by the Tynecastle faithful for his outspoken support of rivals Hibs. After a successful 18 months with St Johnstone, Swanny signed for his boyhood team Hibernian. This has not been a huge success, although it is still early days in his spell at Easter Road. He enjoyed good stints at Peterborough and St Johnstone, yet his Scottish Cup triumph and European endeavours at Dundee United, where he won a Scotland call up, was undoubtedly his most successful spell.

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