SPFL Hall of Infamy: Rodney Sneijder

Today I make the first entry into my SPFL Hall of Infamy. This is just a bit of fun where every once in a while  I’ll name a player who has made a notable impact on Scottish Football since the new set-up was introduced. Whether it be a shocking player, comically poor manager or even an animal or object that somehow gained brief fame.

Today, our opening entrant is Rodney Sneijder. A signing that was as disastrous as the season to come for Dundee United. 

Brother of Rodney, the midfielder joined the Tangerines in July 2015 but was gone at the end of August. 

It seemed like a good signing at first. Sneijder had come through the Ajax youth system like his brother, spending 13 years with the Dutch Giants. He had international experience too, playing 13 times for the Netherlands’ u17 and u19 teams combined. 

He came into a team that needed a player like him. The Arabs had lost Ryan Gauld in 2014 which wasn’t the end of the world but when Stuart Armsrtong and Gary Mackay-Stevens both left for Celtic early in 2015 it was clear that the summer of that year would be when replacements had to be found.

In Rodney Sneijder, Dundee United thought they had found a decent replacement. The guy had pedigree, showing that during a trial period with the club, and he filled a creative void that needed filling. Chris Erskine was struggling to find a place in the team and Ryan Dow was unable to replace Armstrong and Mackay-Stevens in any way so Sneijder seemed a good fit. Also, he was just 24-years old so had plenty of years left in the game. But would he be a success in the gritty Scottish Premiership? Well, we’ll never know.

The midfielder made a substitute appearance for the Tangerines against Aberdeen, the game being his debut but on the 11th of August, following Dundee United’s 2-0 win over Motherwell where Sneijder was not in the squad, Jackie McNamara revealed that the Dutchman had fallen ill and returned to the Netherlands.

It was then announced, two weeks later, that Sneijder’s contract had been terminated by mutual agreement. Jackie McNamara sited a responsibility for the player’s health when facing the press but it can’t be denied that the saga was a huge complication that the club would have liked to avoid.

Rodney’s departure left the Tangerines with very little time to find a replacement  for the player that was seen as a big part of the season to come and in the end they couldn’t sign another midfielder leaving them at a disadvantage before the season had even begun. This lack of creativity could even be to blame for some of the awful results that were to come in the season to follow.

Not only did the whole thing prove detrimental on the pitch but the club ended up replacing every Sneijder top bought by the fans, costing them further money, rubbing salt into the gaping wound.

Overall, the calamitous signing was symptomatic of United’s season as they were relegated from the Premiership. Sneijder was one of many ineffective and expensive signings that the Arabs made last season and Sneijder’s Dundee United career perfectly foreshadowed the Terrors fate in the 2015/16 campaign earning him a place in the SPFL Hall of Fame here on the site.

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Match Preview: Aberdeen vs. Partick Thistle

It’s Scottish Cup quarter-final weekend and the draw has presented what bookies have described as “The most predictable rounds ever” but at Pittodrie, one would argue, we see the biggest chance of an upset. Partick Thistle travel north off the back of a fourth consecutive win and clean sheet in a 1-0 win away to Dundee. Their form has been excellent as of late and has seen them climb to sixth in the Ladbrokes Premiership. On the other hand, Aberdeen were beaten by the then-bottom club Hamilton at New Douglas Park. No matter of form, both teams will be highly motivated as a semi-final trip to Hampden is at stake so now let’s look at the games major turning points.

INJURY WOES FOR THE DONS

At the aforementioned game against Hamilton, the Reds suffered a couple of injury blows to add to their pre-existing problems. Centre-half Mark Reynolds, winger Jonny Hayes and central-midfielder Ryan Jack are all set to miss Sunday’s game. The wideman, Hayes, is a big part of Aberdeen’s attacking threat and has provided six goals this season so he will be a big miss for Derek McIness if he can’t make it back as is expected. Ryan Jack and Mark Reynolds are big misses as they offer solidarity and organisation to the Dons midfield and defence respectively. I would say that Thistle are probably in as good a position as ever to get something from the game at Pittodrie m, whether that is a replay or possibly a win.

AN INEVITABLE NIL

In recent weeks, Partick Thistle have really improved at the back. The addition of Niall Keown to the Jags backline has been a welcome one and they have now kept eight clean sheets in their last ten games. That being said their attack has been up and down. Kris Doolan has been playing well of late and his hard work earned them a the winner against Dundee in midweek but it’s still not clear whether this form will hold up. Even with their good scoring form recently, the Jags haven’t conceded and scored in the same competitive game since December the 23rd so I wouldn’t put my money on both teams to score.

ARCHIE’S PITTODRIE PROBLEMS

Since the Jags’ return to the top flight of Scottish football they have only beaten Aberdeen once, at Firhill back in 2014, and at Pittodrie they have picked up just two points from a possible 18. Pittodrie hasn’t been a happy hunting ground for Archibald’s men but this season they’ve been decent on the road, beating St. Johnstone, Ross County and Dundee twice away from home and also drawing with Hearts at Tynecastle before their recent collapse. It would be a perfect time for their first Pittodrie triumph of recent times with Hampden in their sights.

ABERDEEN AIMING FOR CUP TRIUMPH

With the league table being dominated by a strong Celtic side who are strolling to yet another Scortish Premiership title, many Aberdeen fans will realise that a cup win is probably the best they can achieve alongside a second place finish. They came close to a cup victory in November after making the final of the Betfred League Cup but in that final, they were handily beaten by Brendan Rodgers’ Hoops. The prospect of a return to Hampden would be an attractive one for the Dons faithful and a win against Thistle would provide that. With Celtic, Rangers and Hibs all still in the competion and with them all having home games in the quarters, a potential semi-final certainly wouldn’t be easy if they should overcome Partick Thistle.

Match Preview: Dundee vs. Partick Thistle

Tonight, the battle for a Scottish Premiership top six spot heats up as sixth place Dundee host seventh place Partick Thistle. One point separates the two sides and the game is a tough one to call as both teams have hit a purple patch of form recently. Dundee come into the game off the back of four games unbeaten including an impressive win against Rangers and a rampant 5-1 triumph against a hapless Motherwell side. On the other hand, the Jags have won three games in a row including a 2-0 home victory against fourth place Hearts so both sides will surely see this as a winnable fixture. So now we can look at the main talking points going into tonight’s match.

DOOLAN FINALLY FIRING

One of the main reasons Partick Thistle have been stuck near the lower regions of the Ladbrokes Premiership recently has been their inability to score. Striker Ade Azeez has scored just once in the league all season and Kris Doolan has shown flashes of class but has stifled to be consistent. For the most part, Doolan had been restricted to substitute appearances in the first couple of months of this year but after a game-changing performance off the bench against Hamilton, he has been reinstated to the first eleven. In the Jags’ most recent game, the striker started and scored within the opening five minutes. As well as a goal, he put in a great performance, tirelessly working for the team and linking up well with Chris Erskine before being substituted late in the clash. Are the last two games a sign that the fans’ favourite is back on top form? Or will the Thistle attack continue its inconsistent tendencies?

GREAT ATTACK OR SHODDY DEFENCE?

Last Saturday, Dundee picked up an incredible 5-1 victory over Motherwell. The well-publicised win lead to the dismissal of Mark McGhee as ‘Well boss with the Dees netting five times in the first 45 minutes. The opener was an own goal but Mark O’Hara, Craig Wighton and a brace from recent revelation Matcus Haber lead to an impressive attacking display. But was the scoreline a reflection of a dangerous frontline or was it more telling for the Steelmen’s defence? The Motherwell back line wasn’t a strong one with 19-year-old Zak Jules thrown into the fray at centre-half having played just 11 senior games in his career with seven of those being non-league games in England. Another 19-year-old started the game as well in the form of Jack McMillan. So we will see tonight how this Dundee attack will fare against a strong Thistle defence. Speaking of which…

RESOLUTE JAGS BACKLINE

At the beginning of the season, Partick Thistle had struggled to keep teams out late in games. They dropped points against Hearts, Hamilton, Rangers and Ross County because of goals in the last ten minutes of games. This is, however, a weakness they seem to have eliminated recently. The Firhill side have kept seven clean sheets in their previous nine competitive matches showing that the side is much improved in that department. Young Niall Keown has been a great addition to the Jags unit, allowing Thistle to move between a four-at-the-back formation and three centre-half set-up on a game-by-game basis. Dundee have failed to score in both of this season’s previous encounters against the Maryhill men and judging by other Jags recent defensive displays, it might just stay that way.

THIRD TIME LUCKY?

As mentioned before, Dundee have failed to score against Thistle in this season’s previous two meetings between the sides.  Both of those games have been Jags victories as well. Alan Archibald’s men are the only team that the Dees have been unable to score against or take points from this campaign. This is a record that Paul Hartley’s team will be looking to obliterate tonight especially coming off a confidence boosting win at Fir Park. 

The match kicks-off at 7:45 from Dens Park in Dundee. It promises to be an intriguing match that could swing either way. It’s a game that could swing the race for the top six in either side’s favour and you can expect a review of the match on here tomorrow.