Dundee United: Why Tannadice manager's job is an attractive role after Tam Courts' tenure

For the third summer in a row, Dundee United will look to appoint a new manager following the club and Tam Courts’ decision to part ways with mutual consent.

The destination of Courts’ next move fascinates, as does the direction United go down, with former Hibs and St Mirren manager Jack Ross the strong favourite to take on the role.

Whoever leads the Terrors next season will be taking on a role which is attractive and it should excite.

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The club have improved their league position season-on-season for the last four years. After Robbie Neilson rejoined Hearts having brought United back into the Premiership, Micky Mellon consolidated the team in the top flight before Courts built on that and took the club back into Europe for the first time since 2013 with a fourth-placed finish.

Evolution rather than revolution

The new man will be coming into a club who are in a strong position rather than one in a state of flux – but one with plenty of room for improvement. They don't have to rip everything up and started again. It’s evolution rather than revolution. Something which should work in the club’s favour with Aberdeen and Hibs in transition and likely an unknown quantity when the season begins.

United have a solid core with Charlie Mulgrew, Ryan Edwards and Ross Graham at the back, Liam Smith and Ian Harkes, who is expected to sign a new deal, in midfield and then Peter Pawlett, Ilmari Niskanen and Tony Watt in forward areas.

In addition, Courts did ever so well giving the club's most talented academy players experience last season. Kieran Freeman, Chris Mochrie and Archie Meekison all got a good amount of time on the pitch, while teenagers Rory MacLeod, Miller Thomson and Craig Moore all made appearances.

Dundee United are set to appoint their third new manager in as many seasons.  (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Dundee United are set to appoint their third new manager in as many seasons.  (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Dundee United are set to appoint their third new manager in as many seasons. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

This is a team still developing. It is not one which is near reaching their glass ceiling, nor is it one ready to stagnate or regress. With the right direction, the team have new levels to reach.

Room for improvement

A cursory glance at last season’s league table and the goals scored by each team will jump out as the first area which requires improvement. Pawlett’s injury hampered United going forward but with 37 goals from 38 games, it is clear it needs improving. A striker to play with Tony Watt as well as more varied creativity is required.

The team were sixth for possession but ninth for shots per 90 (8.58), just ahead of rivals Dundee. It wasn’t a case of not getting the ball in the final third with the team fourth for deep completions per 90 minutes (passes within 20 metres of the opposition goal).

Another area which an incoming manager has to be wary of is defence. The team may have conceded 44 goals – only Celtic, Rangers and Hibs conceded fewer – but they were expected to concede 58. No team had a bigger differential. They were guilty last season of being a bit stand-offish in games.

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While United fans may well have been eager to see how Courts developed the team further, they now wait for the next incumbent. Whoever it is, whether it is Ross or not, is walking into a positive situation where, if they can make the necessary tweaks, will have the team competing for European football once more.

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