Dundee Utd 6-2 Dundee: Duo delight McNamara in derby
Jackie McNamara hailed the contributions of Chris Erskine and Gary Mackay-Steven following Dundee United's 6-2 derby win over Dundee.
Erskine's shot was deflected into the net by team-mate Stuart Armstrong for United's first and the midfielder scored the Tangerines' third in between Mackay-Steven's two goals.
"For me, [Erskine] has been one of the most consistent players this season for us," said McNamara. "He doesn't look out of place and he's a main player for us this year.
"Delighted for [Mackay-Steven], he's had to be patient. We just felt today was an ideal game for him to come back in.
"He was unplayable; his work-rate and getting up and down. When he's like that, there's not many better in that position.
"I'm delighted with a lot of things in the game - our goals, our movement. When we're like that, we feel we can beat anybody.
"We knew we could cause them problems and we looked a constant threat from all different areas."
Dundee United moved to within two points of league leaders Celtic, whose New Year's Day meeting with Partick Thistle was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch at Firhill.
"You want competition, you want it to be exciting," said McNamara. "I'd love it to be us to do that. We need to have that same level. We have to do it every game, starting with Sunday at Thistle."
Mackay-Steven is out of contract at the end of the season and scouts have attended recent United matches amid reported interest in striker Nadir Ciftci.
On the prospect of possibly losing players in the January transfer window, McNamara referenced how the club had remained strong despite selling players such as Jon Daly, Ryan Gauld, Andrew Robertson and Johnny Russell.
"I know how things work," added McNamara.
"It's up to me and the rest of the people to try and find replacements. I think we've coped so far with losing so many good talents. We're still competing - it says a lot about the way we do things."
Dundee boss Paul Hartley said the mood in the Dark Blues' dressing room was "low".
"We're really disappointed," he said. "We felt we were too easy to play against. We got cut open too many times.
"We had possession, we had chances. I know we got two goals but we had other chances in the game.
"After we had scored, if we had settled then we might have been okay but we were all over the place at times.
"We've got to defend well, we've got to get back to how we were earlier in the season. We're going through a difficult time as a group of players and as a coaching staff.
"We have to try and get out of this somehow. We have to work our way out of it."
Goalkeeper Kyle Letheren was injured in the warm-up and Arvid Schenk made his debut.
"I don't think it helps," said Hartley. "You work all week and then your plans get upset 10, 15 minutes before the game, but we had to adjust and the goalkeeper definitely had a difficult afternoon."
On Dundee's January plans, Hartley commented: "I don't think we'll have any money to spend.
"We'll need to try and do a bit of wheeling and dealing. We might let a couple of players go out and try to get one or two in. We're hopeful we can get a couple in."