United chairman faces his biggest test
Dundee Utd chairman Stephen Thompson faces the biggest test of his brief chairman's reign so far at Tannadice as he begins the search for a new manager, after caretaker boss Peter Houston ruled himself out of the running for the job vacated by Craig Levein.
Thompson has made a good job of filling the shoes of his late father Eddie, who had his share of managerial disappointments, but now he faces his toughest task to date.
Get it right and he'll be a hero; get it wrong and he'll get it in the neck.
United are thought to have a list of eight candidates which will be whittled down to a shortlist of five names in the coming days.
United want a man who has an overview of the entire club, including the new long-term youth development plans put in place by Levein prior to his departure to the Scotland job.
In the future, United, who are as cash strapped as most other SPL clubs, will need to nurture talent through their youth ranks, and the new man will be expected to pay more than lip service to that philosophy.
However, the first and primary duty of any new manager is to win first-team games, and that is what will exercise Thompson's mind in this crucial appointment.
St Johnstone boss Derek McInnes has many admirers in the game and the compensation levels to lure him to Tannadice might not be as hefty as some imagine.
After a fine playing career, his managerial start has been a sound one. Promotion with St Johnstone, who are currently holding their own in the SPL despite one of the smallest budgets in the league, is testimony to his progress in a short time.
A move for former Hibs boss John Collins would also be a statement of intent by the United chairman, and those who think that Collins would haughtily sniff at the job might be surprised.
He demanded much of Hibs, though, in terms of board ambition and United would need to satisfy him on that score.
Former United player Michael O'Neill has done sterling work at a lower level with Brechin City and Shamrock Rovers and, despite lacking experience of the the SPL, appears to have a bright future in management.
A move for him would be a gamble, but could also unearth a managerial diamond.
Badger, as he was fondly known to United fans has prospered as a coach at Fulham in the Premiership under the stewardship of Roy Hodgson, while McInally has worked wonders with East Stirlingshire, transforming them from Scotland's worst team to promotion contenders in Division Three.
Both could dig and scrap as players, and if United have a current weakness it is a lack of someone to grab the game by the scruff of the neck on the park. Such a pairing would not tolerate a lack of bite in their team.
John McGlynn of Raith Rovers, though, is still the candidate who ticks most boxes. He's done a great job at Stark's Park on a shoestring budget, works like a demon at the game and is seldom away from the ground.
He has worked well with assiatant manager Peter Houston in the past, and would immediatley be up to speed on the playing staff at Tannadice. McGlynn looks like a very strong contender.
It's a difficult call for the United chairman, a balancing act between finding experience and know-how and ambition and drive to propel the club forward.
The right appointment will see him labelled a hero, the wrong one will give him his first true taste of the fans' ire.
Who would be a club chairman, particularly when your family have thrown more than half their personal wealth away on the club?
But tough choices go with the territory and in the next few days the United supremo will find that out if he hadn't guessed it already.