Tony Asghar says Tam Courts was Dundee United's outstanding candidate as club study Dutch and Danish methods for European model

Dundee United sporting director Tony Asghar has defended the appointment of Tam Courts as head coach and stressed he is the man to lead the club’s innovative new approach.

Dundee United sporting director Tony Asghar.

Asghar and the Tannadice hierarchy intend to follow a European model after studying the methods of Dutch club AZ Alkmaar and Danish side Midtjylland. They are convinced 39-year-old Courts, promoted from head of tactical performance to head coach, can drive those ambitions.

Micky Mellon’s season-long stint on Tayside ended last month and created a managerial void. Courts did not apply for the role but was invited for interview and subsequently chosen by the board.

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Some United fans remain sceptical about the decision due to Courts’ lack of experience. He spent five years managing Kelty Hearts between 2013 and 2018 before moving to work in the youth academy at Tannadice.

His knowledge of young players already at the club, plus an extensive network of contacts across Europe, were both factors in his promotion.

“There’s no secret we look at how other innovative clubs are working and how they’re being successful, not just on the pitch but also off the pitch,” explained Asghar. “The owner [US-based businessman Mark Ogren], when he invested in this club, wanted to see how he could best make money.

“You see clubs like Midtjylland who have made huge investments and made a big profit. They utilise recruitment, they utilise analysts, they do a lot of work with African players.

“Obviously it’s slightly different for us. We look at clubs like AZ Alkmaar and how they’re doing well. We want to be different and I know sometimes it scares people in Scottish football because it’s not a traditional way.

“For us, we have to stick to our plan because the owner has come in and invested in a plan. We tweak it or we adapt it, but we don’t change it dramatically.”

United spoke to a number of potential replacements for Mellon before settling on Courts as their preferred option. He will be assisted by the former Hearts and Livingston coach Liam Fox.

Asked why Courts was considered the outstanding candidate, Asghar said: “I think after Micky left, we looked at who was about the football club. Tam, over the last 18 months, has always been impressive in the way he goes about his business, not only within the academy, but also doing a lot of opposition analyst work.

“He’s got a very high network, which nobody understands outwith the club. When he took over for the game at Livingston last season [when Mellon and other coaches had to isolate due to Covid regulations], all the players and staff bought into his methodology.

“Really, after speaking to a number of other candidates, Tam was the outstanding one for ourselves and the board.”

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