Peter Houston eases pressure on striker Johnny Russell
Last updated on .From the section Football
Manager Peter Houston has called on the Dundee United fans not to burden young striker Johnny Russell with too great an expectation that he can score goals.
Russell, 21, often began on the bench last season but David Goodwillie's sale to Blackburn has created a void that Houston is keen for him to fill.
The Tannadice boss was booed when he subbed Russell for Ryan Dow in United's 1-0 home defeat by Dunfermline.
"The fans have got to recognise that he will take a while to adapt," he said.
And Houston added of the former United youth player: "Johnny Russell's adapting to playing strker again. By his standards he was not anywhere near it today. Johnny's a much better player than that.
"But we'll work on him. The only person who won't criticise him is myself.
"I thought Ryan Down did well when he came on. Johnny has to maintain the standard of performance of last season and get used to playing as a twin striker if we are going to play a 4-4-2.
"One thing that is guaranteed is that he will come again because he will get all the encouragement from myself and the rest of the players."
Having forced 13 corners to Dunfermline's one and controlled most of the match, Houston was frustrated that United were unable to beat Pars keeper Paul Gallacher, who performed tremendously.
"The least I thought we were going to get was a draw," lamented Houston.
"I look at some of the chances we created in the first half but we came up against a goalkeeper who has made a couple of world-class saves.
"I can't fault the players for the effort they put into the match.
"But our quality, our final ball and our passing, certainly up front, should have been better."
Houston is keen for cash to replace the wide threat offered by Craig Conway in recent seasons but chairman Stephen Thompson has made it clear that he can no longer fund the club to the same extent in future.
"We look solid enough in the middle of the park but we need someone who is going to give us that wee bit of magic," he added.
"We've got hard-working good young players but today exemplified the fact that young players take time [to develop]."