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Micky Mellon: Dundee United have learned from mistakes against Kilmarnock

Kilmarnock v Dundee United – Scottish Premiership – Rugby Park
(Image credit: Jeff Holmes)

Dundee United manager Micky Mellon admits their chastening defeat at Kilmarnock was a major lesson in their return to the top flight.

But he is not viewing Wednesday’s visit of the Ayrshire side as a chance to rectify that painful 4-0 defeat at Rugby Park in August.

United lost by the same scoreline at Ibrox in their next game but have since tightened up, losing 11 goals in their subsequent 10 Scottish Premiership games.

Looking back to their first meeting with Killie, Mellon said: “We kind of get sucked in a bit where we left ourselves a wee bit vulnerable and gave away a few sloppy goals. Kilmarnock were able to score four goals against us and all credit to them for that.

“But from our point of view there were basics that you can’t let yourselves down with at this level and we got shown that that day. We over-committed at times and got caught on the counter-attack.

“But we learned from that and made sure we moved on, and that’s been part of our redevelopment as a Premiership team; learning that if you give chances away at this level and don’t do the basics well then you will get punished.

“I don’t know if we can get involved in kind of a revenge thing. We are a club that’s always said that as we move we would always learn about the group and try and improve for the next game.

“We had all the possession against Kilmarnock, probably more than we have had in any other game, and ended up losing 4-0.

“So we learned very quickly that possession has to be used properly and even though you’ve got the ball, you have to make sure you set that safety up.

“Within that we learned about basics, stopping crosses and picking people up in the box. It was just a learning curve as every game has been.”

United started with their three frontmen on Saturday – Nicky Clark, Marc McNulty and Lawrence Shankland – but the former came off in a 54th-minute tactical switch before they fought back to claim a 1-1 draw at Hibernian.

But Mellon hopes they can still utilise the attacking trio in other games.

“We hope so but every game is different and we didn’t think it was quite clicking on Saturday,” he said.

“Although the three of them were always a threat, we didn’t get what we wanted out of it.

“We always had the back-up of going to two wingers, that’s why we had wide men on the bench.

“When we introduced two wide men and put McNulty up front, it just seemed to give us a wee bit more going forward.

“The pleasing thing is we can go to different systems and personnel depending on how the game is going, same as we did against Hamilton when we moved from a back five to a back four when were 1-0 down and ended up winning 2-1.

“Other people say: ‘Why don’t you just start like that?’. But if we start like that we can still convert it to the other way and get results.

“It’s good the players can play to a set of principles and can switch systems in order to pick up points.”