The Tannadice club have opted to appeal the red card shown to Nadir Ciftci during the 20-man brawl that scarred the sides' Scottish League Cup quarter-final on Tuesday evening, believing that the Turkish forward was not guilty of the violent conduct of which he stands accused.
Much in the way that what goes on between the respective front rows in a scrum is unfathomable to most, so the exact events around the half hour at the Caledonian Stadium remain somewhat clouded too. First the facts. Richie Foran and Paul Paton clashed in midfield with the ball squirting out of play for a disputed throw-in. The decision was given to United.
Then the mayhem ensured. Foran, despite having fifty yards in which to avoid Gary Mackay-Steven somehow contrived to barge straight into the Dundee United winger - a player with whom he has history after a horrible challenge in the league game between the teams in August - sparking a major melee. Players pushed, shoved, grappled and even, according to some in the Inverness camp, eye-poked as Kevin Clancy and his assistants tried, and failed, to restore order. A couple of yellows were waved, then Ciftci was dismissed, before another round of bookings were awarded and Terry Butcher and Darren Jackson were ordered from the respective technical areas to the stand.
Ross Draper, whose header in the final minute of extra time gave the Highlanders their ticket into today's semi-final draw, described it as "five minutes of blood and thunder" amid something that "wasn't such an aggressive match" and a review of the footage in the cold light of day seems to support that. Granted Ciftci has an arm wrapped around Graeme Shinnie, briefly alighting upon his face, amid the scuffles but his conduct appears no worse than that of various other protagonists and some way shy of Draper's claims in the immediate aftermath of the tie.
"I was on the other side of the pitch when it kicked off, staying out of trouble," he said somewhat strangely given 20 players were involved and none were goalkeepers. "The big lad's [Ciftci] head was gone. I think he poked Josh Meekings in the eye and hit him for the red card but I don't really know. The bookings were for a bit of pushing and shoving. Maybe a bit of stupidity on his behalf helped us in the long run. We were a bit more streetwise to get under their skin. I think that you have to be because they are a good footballing side."
Speaking under close attention from United's PR handlers, captain Sean Dillon attempted to make some sense of what had happened. "If the first incident [Foran felling Mackay-Steven] had been dealt with then I don't think anything else would have happened," he said. "I didn't see the incident [which led to the red card] but whoever made the decision did see enough in the pile-up. Nobody seemed to see what happened to Gary even though it was right in front of them. Why they didn't see it is the question I'd be asking."
Predictably, it was ensured that Ciftci kept his own counsel, while Butcher was presumably still in his office simmering with rage, leaving assistant Maurice Malpas to deal with the fall-out."I was in the dugout not bothering my backside," he said. "Terry was sent to the stand for being outside his technical area yet they had about six outside theirs. Terry was jumping about like an idiot, but he is adamant there was nothing in the Mackay-Steven incident.
"Whatever happened it should not have led to what followed and the players involved should be better than that. The guy [Ciftci] was having a go at everybody and he had Graeme Shinnie by the throat so he got what he deserved."
What exactly that will be remains to be seen. The lodging of an appeal may mean the Turk is free to take his place in the United side for Saturday's visit to Celtic Park, at least, and he could well be joined by John Souttar, who has officially rejected the chance to move to Sunderland. The 17-year-old centre-back feels his development is best served staying at United.