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Who will replace Levein at Tannadice?

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Jim Spence | 15:22 UK time, Thursday, 24 December 2009

Dundee United fans have had it good in recent times with Craig Levein having restored the club's bruised pride and reputation.

Life moves on, though, and with Levein leaving to take the Scotland job, United must now find the man to take the club forward, building on the substantial progress made in his three years at Tannadice.

The job is hugely attractive: no rebuilding work needed, a talented squad of players who have shown themselves capable of matching the best in the country, and a stable club.

Tannadice ParkSo who will United go for? Good man-management skills are likely to feature high on the board's list of requirements.

In the current economic climate United are also unlikely to shell out large amounts of compensation so that narrows the field.

The concept of someone being a number two and not able to step up to the plate of management is a dated one. Opportunities arrive at different stages in life for people and one has just arrived big time for assistant manager Peter Houston.

He knows the club inside out, would be a popular choice with the players, and would allow continuity and stability, something that footballers crave.

In the next three games Houston can make the job his own and there is no reason to suppose that he would not be interested in his first proper crack at management. He has gleaned a huge amount of knowledge in his years with Craig Levein, and would be able to tap into the new Scotland boss for advice.

Other candidates like Michael O'Neill and John McGlynn also tick plenty of boxes.

O'Neill has done great work at Shamrock Rovers since joining them from Brechin City. While he may lack top-flight managerial experience, he is an articulate communicator, a very good coach and, as a qualified financial advisor, understands football finances, a hugely important aspect of management.

Being a former United player will do him no harm either.

McGlynn has done sterling work at Raith Rovers on a limited budget and did a good job in his time at Hearts as caretaker. He has gone about his work at Stark's Park in an understated fashion but has attracted plenty of admirers.

There are plenty of experienced bosses out there looking for work; John Robertson and Jimmy Calderwood to name but two.

The United board have already been inundated with agents throwing names into the mix and more will follow in the coming weeks.

They are in no desperate rush to make their choice, given the fine fettle that Craig Levein has left the team in, but sooner rather than later they will have to choose.

One thing's for sure. In Scottish terms the job is a very desirable one. The postie down Tannadice way is sure to be busy in the weeks ahead.


  • Comment number 1.

    Several questions have to be asked about Craig Levein’s appointment.

    The SFA made a very clear statement on TV about acting with ‘Due Diligence’. Have they done so? What about the short-list of candidates? Who exactly was it who leaked the SFA’s position to the press?

    Due Diligence is not something that one can refer to simply to embellish what one is saying? It is a legally understood term which places clear obligations on an organisation and in particular on it’s Directors.

    Is it acceptable to go from a position of having a list of candidates to only one candidate without having interviewed the others and does this demonstrate that the SFA is acting with Due Diligence?

    If not, then Dundee United might have justifiably claimed that another candidate could easily have scored more highly than Craig Levein if, the SFA had adhered to an objective evaluation process which Due Diligence requires. Dundee United could well have lost their manager unnecessarily. Stephen Thompson’s willingness to move on whilst being the right thing for Dundee United, has let the SFA off the hook and diverted attention from the wider more serious implications.

    And what about the leak? Can the SFA turn a blind eye to this sort of thing? Chief Executive, Gordon Smith is in a particularly difficult position, for if this person acted without the blessing of the Directors, they have clearly acted irresponsibly and undermined the Due Process that Due Diligence requires. Surely this behaviour breaches the SFA’s own disciplinary rules and warrants a dismissal.

    What if the leak was with the approval of the Directors, or even one of the Directors? The Chief Executive’s position is even more difficult. It could be argued that a Director behaving in this way has exposed the SFA to the risk of legal proceedings and if so then the Chief Executive has only one course of action and that is to suspend the person in question pending an investigation.

    It is not easy being Chief Executive of an organisation who’s Directors feel they are making justified decisions if making those decisions places the Chief Executive’s own position in jeopardy, but if Gordon Smith fails to act over this, then his position could well be non tenable.

    He must be seen to act and wield the axe within the SFA to give the organisation a credible structure that will prevent such a situation ever reoccurring with another club.

    What sort of signal does this sort of behaviour send to potential sponsors of the SFA or other areas of Scottish Football. Companies with commercial and sound ethical reputations to protect will not only not wish to be associated with the SFA as it will stain their own good reputations, but when they evaluate the SFA or Scottish Football as an acceptable investment risk, the Due Diligence which they will apply could well exclude the SFA from further consideration unless the SFA change their ways.

  • Comment number 2.

    I would see how Houston does as 'caretaker.' I don't follow football as closely as I used to, so is there a reason Paul Sturrock is not mentioned?

  • Comment number 3.

    I think UTD should choose berween Alan Kernaghan or Alex Rae as they would point UTD in the right direction.

  • Comment number 4.

    The comments by Iain Jack raise important points with regards to any recruitment. It seems however that the way that the SFA recruited is generally the way that most football clubs conduct their managerial selections. Would be interesting if someone, e.g. John Collins challenged this.

    However, the question raised by Jim Spence is about Dundee United, not the SFA and their recruitment procedures. So, to return to the point ...

    Paul Sturrock. An absolute legend at Tannadice who has in the past expressed interest in returning to the club. Unfortunately, Paul has not exactly set the heather on fire with his managerial style, his ability to bring on young players or his eloquence when dealing with the press.

    With regards to Peter Houston, I would doubt his credentials to carry out the job. Some people choose to be no.1. Peter seems to have chosen to be a no.2. No doubt the reasons for this will emerge over the next few games.

    I understand Jim's reasons for not mentioning McInnes. Having just signed a new contract, St Johnstone are likely to demand a lot of money for him.

    John McGlynn and Michael O'Neill are interesting suggestions. I note that Jim doesn't mention Billy Reid though. More compensation issues or a recognition that this is a manager who has created success for his team through trying to stifle creative football?

    Other names I would like to put in the hat would be Dan Petrescu (showed interest in the Scotland job and could see it as a stepping stone) and Jim McInally, ex Dundee United and Scotland, gets on as well with the SFA as Levein and has a better managerial record coming into the job ...

  • Comment number 5.

    I agree that Jim McInally would be a good choice. He knows the set up at Tannadice and he has performed a minor miracle at East Stirling.
    Get him in. There was a malaise at Tannadice yesterday and it will persist until we appoint a new manager. ST - do not waste time.

  • Comment number 6.

    George Burley has a good club record and may be looking for a job. I don't think the Scotland job was all his fault by any means (responsibility, sure), so I think he'd do a good job at United.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well you United fans are a forgiving lot. Moving on eh? Looks like it by the sound of the comments. If I were a United fan I'd be pretty worried right now and given the state of finances I wouldn't waste my time looking for another Craig Levein, because your not going to get one.
    You'll have to take what you get. The SFA walked all over you to get what they wanted. The only direction United will be moving in is down. It will be interesting to see how forgiving you are after Craig Levein has lost a few matches and by which time you lot will be relegation contenders like the rest of us. Iain Jacks comments were relevent but what he should have said was that this wasnt only a bad decision for United, it was bad for Scottish football.

  • Comment number 8.

    In my opinion United are in a bit of a quandary with this decision.

    They could go for an experienced manager who would probably keep things stable but maybe not take them forward.

    Alternatively take a chance on a younger inexperienced manager such as O'Neil which if it goes wrong would then mean a payout.

    And how long would he be given to prove his ability ?

    However, we might well unearth the next Jim McLean who had no real credentials that would have suggested he would have achieved what he did.

    United supporters also need to accept our place in Scottish football.

    The McLean days was a one off and will never be seen again.

    Resources suggest we are behind both Glasgow and Edinburgh clubs along with Aberdeen.

    So let's be ambitious but realistic and accept making Europe would be an achievement and maybe a possible cup win.

  • Comment number 9.

    Told you so.... 7-1 .... there's going to more like it, so get used to it


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