With the Tannadice club unveiling a statue of legendary manager Jim McLean on the eve of the match it seemed a significant weekend for a comparative novice in Courts to rubber stamp his worth.
The former youth coach has already got a win over Rangers to his name since stepping up to the top job this summer. Now he has the prize of a victory over United’s fiercest rivals after Ian Harkes’ late winner. United are now up to fifth in the table.
“I still have loads of doubt, I have doubts every week…” said Courts, 40, afterwards. “In a manager’s job, you know what it’s like. Sometimes you’re high, sometimes you’re low. The key thing for me is to remain focused and calm.
“When I first got the job, there was a furore,” he added. “You couldn’t ignore that. It was a real test of my own mentality and my own belief in myself. I’m just working to the best of my abilities here. We’ve got a great group of players and the fans are responding well in their numbers. We had a huge game today and have another big one on Thursday (v Hibs in the Premier Sports Cup). Hopefully we can keep progressing as a team and a club.”
He is not convinced those who questioned whether he should have been given the job in the first place have been silenced.
“I’m sure it will come back if we lose a couple of games…” he said. “The club’s been brave. I need to give young players opportunities. I want to give young players opportunities.
“But I also want to make the senior players better. I think the better I make them, the harder it is for the young players to get in the team. Once they do get in the team, they’re better for the experience.”
Courts described the afternoon as “exhilarating” and stressed that he was aware of the emotional context of the match given members of McLean’s family were in the directors’ box: “The players knew what it meant to have the McLean family here today so indirectly it may have played a part.”