Ray McKinnon may give some Dundee United players a reprieve

Ray McKinnon will ensure no player leaves Dundee United that he wants to keep. Picture: SNS.
Ray McKinnon will ensure no player leaves Dundee United that he wants to keep. Picture: SNS.
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New Dundee United manager Ray McKinnon will sift through the list of players culled from the squad by chairman Stephen Thompson and may give some a second chance at the Tannadice club.

McKinnon has been quick to stamp his authority on his return to United, where eight out-of-contract players were released nearly a fortnight ago following relegation to the Championship. All others bar five – Simon Murray, Luis Zwick, Blair Spittal, Scott Fraser and skipper Sean Dillon – were advised to find new clubs.

But McKinnon plans to look again at the situation, meaning the club could be set to make a dramatic about-turn when it comes to the likes of John Rankin and Ryan Dow, both of whom are out of contract.

Unusually, chairman Thompson was not at the stadium yesterday to introduce McKinnon, who preferred to dispense with formalities at his official unveiling. Having been confirmed as manager on a three-year contract last week, he wanted to get straight to work yesterday.

One of McKinnon’s first tasks will be to ensure

no one is departing he does not want to depart. “What the chairman did there was to say that there is no money to offer you contracts,” he said. “There is no manager in place. But if I want to go back to any of these players and chat to them or bring them back to the club, it will be my decision.

“The players are under contract until I say so. If I want them to go – and they want to go – then we will address that. But every player who is under contract, it will be my decision if they are here or not.

“Can some of them get a second chance? Absolutely. If I want to keep any of the players who are out of contract, and it’s within a budget, I can certainly go and speak to them.”

McKinnon confirmed Laurie Ellis, his No 2 at Raith, will continue in that role at United. Former Tannadice midfielder Grant Johnson and Darren Taylor, also both with McKinnon at Stark’s Park, will relocate to United too.

Despite recent confirmation that Hibs will be a Championship rival next season, McKinnon is focused on going back up as champions. “It’s Dundee United. The expectation levels are there and rightly so. Winning the title has to be the aim.”

McKinnon also conceded he would have found the offer to return to Dundee United too tempting even had Raith Rovers secured promotion to the Premiership via the play-offs. He had claimed he would stay at Raith if they managed to reach the top flight. However, they lost to Hibs in the Premiership play-offs.

“What I said was that I would be the manager if they had gone up,” he said. “Nothing had changed then in terms of job offers. I would still have been contracted to Raith. If I was moving up with Raith and nothing had happened, I would still have been Raith Rovers manager. If Raith had gone up, I would probably still have taken the United job (had I been offered it).”