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Page last updated at 20:08 GMT, Saturday, 15 May 2010 21:08 UK

No problem for Houston

Dundee United manager Peter Houston is soaked as he carries the Scottish Cup
Houston joins in the Hampden celebrations after United's victory

By Colin Moffat
BBC Scotland at Hampden Park

Peter Houston stepped out of Craig Levein's shadow at the tail end of last year and finished the season basking in the Hampden sunshine holding the Scottish Cup aloft.

Dundee United brought their centenary season to a close in style, with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Ross County at Hampden.

And Houston might be forgiven for thinking a manager's job is easy, having also steered United to third place in the Scottish Premier League - their best finish since 1997.

However, in typically modest fashion, the 51-year-old was quick to praise the contribution of his predecessor, with whom he aims to share a celebratory drink after the celebrations at the national stadium.

"Craig and I worked together eight or nine years," he said.

"I do not need anyone to tell me it is his team. I know it his team. I am the first to say it.

"What he is so pleased about we have been able to continue the good work.

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"He is delighted and would love to be part of the day but he has a massive job ahead as Scotland manager.

"There is a hint of jealously because he misses being on the touchline. We have a great relationship. He is a good friend as well."

Houston, who assisted Levein at Hearts and Leicester before the pair moved to Tannadice four years ago, was the classic number two - at his happiest on the training ground and always a reluctant interviewee.

And he expressed doubts about taking on the manager's job early in his initially interim period in charge.

His first game as caretaker manager ended in a disappointing 0-0 home draw with Kilmarnock, the second was a disastrous 7-1 thrashing at Ibrox.

But the results improved and Houston has grown into the role in a remarkably short time, although he would still rather avoid the media work.

Ross County may have made the task easier for United, with an insipid showing but the Tannadice gaffer showed his worth by overseeing a thoroughly dominant display.

The team from Dingwall simply did not show up. There was none of the aggression and pace that did for Hibernian or the patient passing and quick counter-attacking that stunned Celtic in the semi-final.

Perhaps the occasion got to the Highlanders. Certainly Michael McGovern looked nervous throughout and it was his blunder that led to United's opener.

The goalkeeper's decision to leave his penalty area and head clear was punished by David Goodwillie's excellent lofted finish.

Dundee United midfielder Craig Conway
Conway enjoyed a fantastic afternoon for Dundee United

Prior to the breakthrough on 61 minutes, McGovern had been protected by some sterling last-ditch defending.

But the County resistance crumbled under increased pressure and Craig Conway capped a thrilling display with two tremendous finishes.

The United midfielder must have been running on adrenalin alone to get round the lap of honour..

He spent most of the first half chasing aimless long balls from his defensive team-mates but was always a threat with his pace and trickery.

His industry was rewarded on 75 minutes when he ran on to a Goodwillie flick and sped away to slot a shot under the advancing McGovern and he tucked away a neat strike 10 minutes later to really get the United party started.

And it was quite a celebration from the fans, who had seen their favourites come up short in seven of the previous eight final appearances in the competition.

Hampden was ablaze with tangerine and the sight and sound of 27,000 punters belting out 1977 disco classic Love is in the Air will live long in the memory.

There must also be a word of appreciation for the 17,000 who turned up to cheer the Staggies and stayed on to applaud when the runners-up collected their medals.

It may not have been the classic final that the colourful occasion was crying out for, with United strolling to victory.

However, that will be of no concern to Houston and you can be sure he will be teasing his old pal Levein, who never managed to get his hands on any major silverware during his club managerial career, as they raise a glass together.



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see also
Houston delight at Cup final win
15 May 10 |  Dundee Utd
Adams proud of County's Cup run
15 May 10 |  Ross County
Dundee United 3-0 Ross County
15 May 10 |  Scottish Cups
Scottish Cup photo gallery
15 May 10 |  Scottish Cups
Scottish Cup final as it happened
15 May 10 |  Scottish Cups


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