Tam Courts hopes his Dundee United side will “liberate” themselves in the post-split fixtures after the pressures of clinching a top-six spot in the cinch Premiership.
The Tannadice side are in fourth place, 16 points behind Sunday’s opponents Hearts and one point ahead of Ross County and Motherwell.
After confirming the top-half finish with a 2-2 draw against local rivals Dundee in the last pre-split fixture, United are now targeting a European spot and boss Courts wants it to be a positive experience.
He said: “It feels really good on the basis that we’ve had to almost endure this season.
“There has been so many twists and turns and numerous teams fighting for that top-six position.
“The win at St Mirren was significant because scoring that late goal gave us that bit of daylight and allows us to almost go into the final week knowing that barring a disaster we were in the top-six position.
“We have five huge games coming up, really exciting games and hopefully the team can maybe liberate itself a little bit because maybe indirectly you feel the pressure of such a tight league.
“Hopefully we can get back to some of the fast free-flowing football that we played at the start of the season and we can really enjoy the race for the top four position.
“It is a positive pressure now. We don’t have to worry about finishing ninth, like we did last season.
“We can really look to maintain that fourth position, very respectful to the other teams who have achieved top-six on merit and it is a great incentive to the club to enjoy and almost liberate ourselves a little bit where the games bring a positive pressure, as opposed to the negative pressure sometimes when you are fighting for something everyone wants so badly.”
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