Ray McKinnon admits he has accepted a major challenge by taking the Dundee United job – but he vowed to restore pride among his fellow fans.
McKinnon, who made 122 appearances during two playing spells with United, has signed a three-year contract to manage his hometown club following several days of talks with chairman Stephen Thompson.
The 45-year-old’s most pressing task will be to reshape the squad following a budget cut that his predecessor, Mixu Paatelainen, described as “severe” regardless of which division United ended up in.
But the current squad could be decimated following their relegation from the Ladbrokes Premiership after all but five players were asked to find new clubs in the summer.
McKinnon was United’s number one target to replace Paatelainen and resigned as Raith Rovers manager on Wednesday night in order to take the job.
The former United midfielder told the club’s official website: “This is a wonderful opportunity at a club that is close to my heart and I am looking forward to taking on the task of rebuilding the club and developing the talent required to get us where we should be.
“There are a lot of challenges ahead and it is important that we give ourselves every opportunity to succeed. We will work hard to build a team that the United fans can be proud of.”
McKinnon started his managerial career with Dundee-based Lochee United in the Scottish Juniors before taking up a coaching role with the Scottish Football Association.
The former Nottingham Forest and Luton midfielder returned to management with Brechin in 2012, leading them to promotion in his first season in charge before taking them into the play-offs for a place in the Championship.
He joined Raith last summer and guided them into the Premiership play-offs but they suffered a 2-1 aggregate defeat to Hibernian in the quarter-finals.
“I want to thank everyone at Raith Rovers,” he said. “I really enjoyed my time there and I am grateful to them for being so understanding of my desire to become manager of Dundee United. Raith Rovers are a fabulous, proper club whom I wish all the best.”
McKinnon will watch United’s final Ladbrokes Premiership game tomorrow at Kilmarnock from the stand as Gordon Young continues with his caretaker role.
The appointment failed to appease some fans who are angry with Thompson’s role in the club’s troubles. United were forced to move a public kit launch from Perth Road to their Gussie Park complex across the road from Tannadice, after learning of a planned banner protest.