Malpas shows the way forward
28 Oct 1996
Dundee United........1 Hearts......................0
THE self-same continental shuttle which transported Tannadice "legends" like Orjan Persson, Finn Dossing, and Lennart Wing to Tayside will resume the service into Dundee this morning.
Disembarking this time will be experienced Swedish players Lars Zetteland and an unnamed Icelandic defender, as United manager Tommy McLean bids to match the success of a predecessor - Jerry Kerr - in the import trade.
McLean has made a decent start in terms of luring foreign talent, judging by the ovations afforded to Norwegian Erik Pederson and Swede Kjell Olofsson for their parts in this success against Hearts.
United's less-than-inspiring start to the season had prompted a search for new faces, and first impressions are that McLean may have hit the jackpot at first base.
Pederson, currently with Viking Stavanger, played in midfield with a confidence which suggested he will have more to offer United once this week's assured bargaining between club and player is completed.
"I have been more than impressed about everything connected with the club officials, team-mates, and the fans who were behind myself and Kjell right from the start," said Pederson.
Striker Olofsson, who plays with Norwegian club, Moss, had been given permission from his club to sign a short-term contract with United to allow him to play competitive games throughout his guest spell.
He, too, looked the part, despite the exertions of a midweek reserve team outing against Dunfermline taking their toll late in the game.
But while the newcomers commanded most attention, their performances were far from being the only plusses gained by McLean from 90 minutes which furnished his club with only their second league win of the campaign.
A display of defensive solidarity allowed Robbie Winters' strike in 67 minutes to extend the hosts' unbeaten league run to four games, in which only one goal has been conceded - and eight of the Tannadice club's nine points acquired.
Maurice Malpas, United's 34-year-old former Scotland defender, looks to be improving with age, judging by his outstanding contribution on Saturday.
And importantly, the younger element around him are benefiting.
It was Malpas who utilised his experience to read a Steve Fulton corner kick from the right, intercept it, and stun Hearts with the incisiveness of a break from inside his own penalty box which led to Winters' winner.
But while the home men took stock of their recent advances and awaited this morning's arrivals from abroad, Jim Jefferies' Hearts were left to ponder what might have been.
Only a few days after having accepted the acclaim of their support when advancing through to the Coca-Cola Cup final, the Tynecastle side looked to be jaded as they discarded the chance to match their cup form with a win which would have propelled them into fourth place in the premier table.
Needless to say, manager Jefferies admitted to giving his players stick after it was all over.
Quite right, too.
Next league games: Dundee United - Motherwell (a); Hearts - Dunfermline (h).
NOT so many seasons ago, a premier division trip to nearby Dens Park ruined an entire Hearts season.
Let's hope for their fans' sake that Saturday's lethargic display is not catching.
Taken from the Herald