'Jack Ross is on different level': Dundee United chief purrs over manager he has admired for long time

Tony Asghar believes Dundee United have struck gold with Jack Ross because they are getting a “different level” manager to what they have had in the past at just the right time.
New Dundee United head coach Jack Ross is unveiled by sporting director Tony Asghar.New Dundee United head coach Jack Ross is unveiled by sporting director Tony Asghar.
New Dundee United head coach Jack Ross is unveiled by sporting director Tony Asghar.

The Tannadice club should be expert in the art of managerial recruitment.

They’ve had to investigate options in each of the last two summers and it will be a surprise if Asghar hasn’t already got a folder marked “Next manager” saved on his office desktop.

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Except this time, the sporting director hopes things will be different. This time he expects to hit it off with his latest appointment, who he introduced to reporters at a press conference in St Andrews on Wednesday. Asghar is confident there will be no need to re-consult a list he revealed Ross has always topped.

They even got as far as talking but it was never the right time. Ross was always in a job. United plumped for Micky Mellon two summers ago and then recruited from within last year, when Tam Courts stepped up from his role as head of tactical performance.

Both Mellon and Courts were more than decent appointments, with Courts in particular leading United to a recent high of fourth spot and back into Europe after an absence of ten years. But Asghar contends that the United manager’s seat was always being kept warm for Ross.

It just so happened that fates finally conspired to let him finally sit in it this summer.

Not only was Ross available having turned down an approach from Dundee, but United were also on the lookout for a new manager after Courts left to pursue other options. He has recently been appointed manager of Honved in Budapest.

“Jack has always been an outstanding candidate for me personally, ever since I came into this job,” said Asghar. “He knows that and I know that. We’ve talked quite a lot but unfortunately it was at times when he was in a job.

“So it was an easy transition. We’ve had a number of chats over the past seven or eight days. Once we spoke to the board and the board spoke to Jack, I think it was very easy to understand he was the right man to lead us forward.

“I look at the Scottish Premiership and where does Jack sit?” he added. “We’ve got a top manager in the league so that gives us a real head start. No disrespect to what we’ve had before, the guys have done their specific roles, but Jack’s on a different level for Dundee United.”

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Asghar would not be human if he didn’t feel slightly paranoid about three managers leaving on his watch since 2019, two in the past 12 months.

“I don’t think I take it personally,” he said. “I think it’s indicative of the way that football is now. I think everybody is looking for their next move.

“Whether you’re a player or a manager, there’s always going to be opportunities. It’s such a transient industry. People move and the role of a sporting director is to keep that structure in place to allow a manager to come in, take a look at what we’re doing and adapt slightly to improve and make us better.

“It shouldn’t really affect things if someone else leaves their job. I think everyone who has left the football club has left on good terms but hopefully Jack will be a longer stay.”