Dundee United manager Micky Mellon cannot wait to saddle up in front of fans next season after likening behind-closed-door clashes to riding a horse without a whip.
The Tannadice boss is relieved that his side are now into the final furlong following a hugely testing campaign.
United host their last home game of the season against Motherwell on Wednesday before travelling to St Mirren to round off the season on Sunday.
Mellon’s team have struggled without their supporters but are still in with a chance of a seventh-place finish.
No matter what happens in the final weeks of the season, Mellon is looking forward to taking a breather this summer.
And he is already excited about next term as fans prepare to make their return to stadiums following 15 gruelling months in lockdown.
He said: “It’s been a tough season. Playing under these conditions has been very different.
“We’re looking forward to getting crowds back in again. That will be such a massive statement and bring back a big part of the game. We need a rest from this.
“I wouldn’t say it’s been draining but it’s just so different – and not in a positive way. The game has lost a lot.
“This season has been a bit like riding a horse without a whip.
“The fans are the whip which gets the horse going. There are massive moments in games where the fans ask for more or drive you on.
“That has an effect on the environment you’re playing in.
“But this season there have been times when we’ve scored a goal but on the sidelines we’re asking, ‘has that gone in?’ because there’s no adulation or cheering.
“Football as we know it is more when the fans are in so it will be great to have them back again. The game will be much better for it.”
United are looking to bounce back after the bitter blow of losing Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final to Hibernian.
But Mellon will use the Well clash to give his fringe men a run out.
He said: “I’m going to use it as an opportunity to find out more about the group.
“Obviously we want to win the game but there are a few people who have been itching for a go so they will get an opportunity.”
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