BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
THOMAS MIKKELSEN insists unfinished business brought him back to Dundee United after enduring promotion heartbreak at Hamilton last term.
The towering Dane has returned to United on loan for the remainder of the campaign, just six months after leaving Tannadice for Ross County.
He was a firm fans’ favourite in his first stint in Tayside, scoring eight goals in the second half of last season – including the dramatic winner last March as they defeated St Mirren 2-1 in the Irn-Bru Cup final at Fir Park.
However, Mikkelsen’s quest to help United return to the Premiership fell at the last hurdle as Accies claimed a hard-fought 1-0 win at New Douglas Park to win the promotion playoff final and retain their top-flight place.
That still stings for the 28-year-old and he is determined to make amends.
“We are ready to fight for promotion,” said Mikkelsen. “I believe we have a decent team so we push for that. It would mean so much for me to help Dundee United reach the Premiership because last season we failed at the last stage and we all want to show we can do it this year. That’s my goal for the season.
“The way the season ended at Hamilton was so tough for everyone at the club. That motivates me. I want to show everyone that it was wrong we didn’t go up – that we are good enough to play in the top league. We want to say ‘we will show you this time’.
“I believe we have a big chance. Last year, Hibernian – who are a massive club – were in the league, which makes things complicated, but this time there is a chance for us to be number one in the league.”
To do so, United will need to close the eight-point gap to St Mirren at the summit of the Championship, as Mikkelsen aims to torment the Buddies for a second successive campaign.
He smiled: “The [Irn-Bru] Cup gave me good memories, hopefully we can beat St Mirren again – to the title this time.”
Mikkelsen is adamant he harbours no hard feelings towards County after seeing his move north turn sour. Signed on a two-year deal by previous manager Jim McIntyre, his hopes of cementing a starting berth were hit by the arrival of Owen Coyle.
He did manage to notch four goals in 15 outings in Dingwall – but insists he needed to leave in search of regular starts.
“It has been really tough,” conceded Mikkelsen. “Jim McIntyre signed me and got sacked after one month and that is a difficult situation. The new gaffer came in and only wanted to play with one striker – and there were four at the club!
“Things were not going my way so I need to go out and play some more. Dundee United was the perfect opportunity to come back to a great club.
“I enjoyed my time up there, it was a good laugh with a good bunch of lads, but I’m 28 and I need to play football.”
Meanwhile, Mikkelsen insists he is already relishing his attacking partnership with fellow Dane – and impromptu translator – Emil Lyng, who opened his account for United in Saturday’s 2-0 triumph over Alloa in the Scottish Cup – teeing up a trip to face Aberdeen in the fifth round.
“It’s good – because now I can speak a little bit of Danish around the club,” he smiled. “My English is a little better these days, but it is nice that you can speak your own language sometimes. Also, he can translate for me!
“On the pitch, the more competition you have in the squad, the better the team is going to be and, if we do well and fight for a place in the team, it will make us both better players.”