A sense of déjà vu for United as another manager departs

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Robert McGlone

THERE’S a feeling of déjà vu all over again at Dundee United, as the club announced the departure of first team manager Micky Mellon by mutual consent.

Mellon (above) had just one season at the Tangerines and—as mentioned in last month’s article—he did the job he came to do by securing the club’s Premiership status.

A leftfield appointment from the outset, there was a sense of inevitability on this one and the appointment had an interim feel about it as the season progressed.

Success, though, can be measured in various ways and what Mellon achieved with a tight budget and a squad largely assembled from the Championship should not be overlooked and he should be commended for his efforts with the Tangerines.

The football at times was far from pleasing on the eye, but in a results driven business Mellon can leave with his head held reasonably high and also in the knowledge he has added some extra value to his CV as he heads back down south.

His last few games in charge saw United disappointingly lose out in the Scottish Cup semi-final to eventual runners-up Hibernian who were simply too good on the day. A good run out for the youngsters in the final home game with Motherwell worked well for an hour or so, before fatigue took its toll with the Steelmen nicking a 2-2 draw at the death in what proved to be an entertaining match. To finish off this season’s fixtures, United played out a last day damp squib affair at St Mirren. With neither side really having anything to play for, it came as no shock that it finished goalless in Paisley.

So here we go again on the manager merry-go-round with the usual suspects being listed for the hotseat. John ‘Yogi’ Hughes, has been mentioned as has former Aberdeen boss, Derek McInnes, who himself had a spell with United at the end of his playing career.

Reports coming out of Tannadice, though, suggest that the club may go in house with the promotion of the lesser known Tam Courts, who arrived at the club to take on the role of Head of Tactical Performance almost a year and a half ago.

The local press in the city are currently placing him as the even money favourite for the post and while his only management experience was at Kelty Hearts, he did step into the breach for Micky Mellon late last year when the gaffer was at home in quarantine due to Covid-19.

Courts is reportedly highly thought of by the board who have been most impressed by him and what he has brought to the club. His knowledge of the youth set-up, and the integral part he has played in it, may go in his favour and he may well get his chance to shine on a bigger stage as First Team Coach.

Nevertheless, a rookie manager will always give cause for concern and this has been echoed by the Federation of Dundee United Supporters who have written to the club querying the logic of such a move with obvious concerns about the future and direction of the club. At this moment in time, the American owners have not interviewed or spoken to anyone for the vacant position. It seems clear though that Courts will at least be given an interview and whether or not that is just a formality remains to be seen.

Thinking ahead to next season United will be once again looking towards the success of the academy in an attempt to bolster the playing squad. A renowned system that has produced some fine young talent over the years looks set to continue to produce the goods with the club reporting this week that no fewer than 10 academy graduates have been called up for international duty. Under Mellon, five of these were handed first team debuts last season and four will join up with the U21s, which bodes well for the future.

It goes without saying that fans have been sorely missed at football grounds around the country and, all being well, that will change for the next campaign. Finances have, of course, taken a battering as well as the match atmosphere, which has been sorely lacking. With the neighbours Dundee FC back in the Premiership after their play-off success, fans are all desperately hoping that they will be able to sample the special atmosphere of derby day at a packed Tannadice once again in the near future.

Obviously, everyone follows their team through thick and thin regardless, but sometimes piped crowd noises via a live stream just doesn’t cut it.

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