Dundee United next manager: The ex-player who is the obvious candidate and ex-player everyone wants

Dundee United are on the lookout for a new manager following the sacking of Jack Ross.

The former Hibs and St Mirren boss lasted just seven matches having been appointed in June to replace Tam Courts.

United, in a short statement, confirmed he had been “relieved of his duties with immediate effect”. It follows a run of games straight losses with the team having conceded 24 goals, the most recent a 9-0 home loss to Celtic. He won just one of his seven matches, a 1-0 success over AZ Alkmaar before being thumped 7-0 in the return.

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Now owner Mark Ogren and sporting director Tony Asghar have a big decision to make regarding the next appointment.

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We look at the possible candidates:

Michael O'Neill

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The former Northern Ireland manager is the obvious early candidate following his departure from Stoke City. The 53-year-old was sacked following a poor start to the season. Over his career he has proven himself to be a shrewd coach. He became the first boss to take a League of Ireland side into the group stages of a European competition when in charge of Shamrock Rovers and then transformed the fortunes of Northern Ireland, taking them to Euro 2016 and into the Euro 2020 play-offs, departing before they took place. At Stoke, he steered the team from the bottom of the Championship to safety in the 2019-20 season. O’Neill is very familiar with Tannadice having spent four seasons at the club as a player having been signed for six figures by Jim McLean.

Duncan Ferguson

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Dundee United are looking to replace Jack Ross. (Photo by Paul Devlin / SNS Group)

While O’Neill is the obvious candidate, Ferguson is the one everyone wants. The former Scotland and United striker appeared to have little interest in football after he retired before returning to Everton, working his way up to become a first-team coach. Twice he had to fulfil the role of caretaker and left this summer to pursue his own management career. “It’s been a massive decision for me, an incredibly difficult one but I need to move on, to take that next step in my career,” he said. Ferguson emerged on the scene at United under McLean and would go on to be sold for £4million to Rangers.

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Shaun Maloney

The current situation at United is far from the ideal one for Maloney to take on given his difficulties at Hibs when he also replaced Jack Ross. However, the former Scotland international was a key candidate to take over at rivals Dundee suggesting he is keen to dip his feet back in the managerial water. The experience at Easter Road may well have stood him in good stead but it would be a big risk for both manager and club.

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Tommy Wright

The former St Johnstone boss has been linked with taking over at Tannadice previously when St Johnstone boss. During his time in Perth he enjoyed getting the better of United, namely in the Scottish Cup final in 2014. His spell with Kilmarnock was not a positive one, overseeing relegation and then encountering difficulties in the Championship. However, there is plenty of evidence from his time at Saints to confirm his managerial qualities. The issue is the current United squad doesn't look like a Tommy Wright team and will need plenty of work in the final days of the transfer window.

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