SO WHERE do you begin with the last month at Dundee United, who are now looking for their fifth manager in as many years, after the departure of Jack Ross who lasted a mere ten weeks in the hotseat?
Ross’s departure came on the back of some disappointing and humiliating defeats. He will unfortunately be remembered as the man in charge when United set two unwanted records in the club’s history.
The first was a 7-0 humiliation at the hands of Dutch side AZ Alkmaar in the Europa Conference League. It was United’s worst ever European result. Carrying a 1-0 lead into the second leg in the Netherlands, United simply fell to pieces conceding four goals in 15 minutes before the break. The 1300 traveling Arabs as well as a live TV audience couldn’t actually believe what they were watching as United simply capitulated on a European night to forget.
Fast forward two weeks and the visit of Celtic to Tannadice, which was even worse, with the champions handing out a 9-0 annihilation on Ross’s side, who were simply outclassed and made to look like an under-10s outfit by the Hoops who were on stunning and merciless form. Effectively this was the final straw for the head coach and United’s worst ever home result in the Premiership into the bargain.
Going into this game, though, it was clear that love was not in the air with rumours of ‘senior players’ leading a revolt in the dressing room. Ross himself alluded to this in a post-match interview where his side had gone down 3-0 at home to St Mirren saying it just wasn’t happening and the players just didn’t seem to want to play for him or buy into his style of play. Ultimately the club made the decision to relieve him of his duties and we move on (again) to try getting the team back to winning ways.
So, under the watchful eye of caretaker boss Liam Fox, United went to Livingston and recorded a 2-1 victory with goals from Steven Fletcher and Ian Harkes setting up a quarter-final tie with Kilmarnock.
The side also showed their capabilities with a goalless draw at Motherwell in the league. Motherwell, on a good run of form, can count themselves unfortunate not to have taken all three points where, on another day, Dutch Striker Kevin Van Veen could have had a hat-trick. Thankfully for United, his luck was out though, beginning with a penalty save from United keeper Carljohan Eriksson and several efforts blocked when a goal looked certain. A clean sheet away from home has to be seen as a positive at this stage and United have Hibs up next at Tannadice to try and kick start this season.
So back to the managerial merry-go-round where the media have, as ever, selected their top men based on the bookies odds. The two favourites at the moment seem to be Ross County gaffer, Malky Mackay, who has been linked with club in the past and Duncan Ferguson who has stated he is open to talks with his former employers. ‘Big Dunc’ would be a welcome addition to Tannadice, having cut his teeth there as a player more than 30 years ago. He has experience as assistant manager at Everton as well as a stint as caretaker and was touted earlier in the season for the job at Blackburn Rovers by none other than Carlo Ancelotti. Who knows, it may be good starting point for the big man on Tayside. Don’t rule out current caretaker Liam Fox, though, as the club may see him a safe and sensible option as they did with Tam Courts last year.
Whoever comes in, they have a huge task on their hands with United rooted to the foot of the table with only two points to show for their efforts so far and Arabs finding it difficult to see where a win is coming from.
United had a few ins and outs during the transfer window with Nicky Clark heading down the road to Perth where he scored on his debut for St Johnstone. Replacing him up front is Ugandan Anaku Sadat (above) who impressed during a trial spell with United B team playing in several matches and scoring a hat-trick in a bounce game against Queen’s Park. Sadat came onto the radar after attending a training camp in Spain set up by the Ugandan Government to showcase talent in their country. The 21-year-old joins on a two- year deal and will be part of the first team set up for the challenges ahead this season.