Tony Asghar urges Dundee United fans to give new boss Thomas Courts time
Tony Asghar has urged the Dundee United support to give Thomas Courts time – but warned the new Tannadice boss he will be expected to deliver a Scottish Premiership top-six finish within 12 months.
Tangerines youth academy chief Courts, 39, has been handed the keys to the first-team dressing room following Micky Mellon’s departure.
But appointment of the former Kelty Hearts boss has not gone down well with the United faithful amid concerns over a lack of ambition.
However, Courts has the full backing of sporting director Asghar and club owner Mark Ogren.
So much so they are refusing to budge on their top-six target for the season ahead.
“Any managerial appointment is a gamble – but this is a calculated gamble because Thomas has been here for the last 18 months and we know what he can bring to the table,” said Asghar as Courts was officially unveiled at Tannadice.
“The inference is we’re bringing in a rookie manager but I don’t see it like that.
“Fans will always do their own due diligence on a manager whether it be through Google or the media. But we have spoken to everyone within the football department and they have all bought in to it, including the senior players who are excited.
“He took the team last year against Livingston when Micky was isolating and they loved the way he went about his business, so for me that tells me the gamble is not as big as some people make out.
“Last year it was quite clear we were a team coming up from the Championship but part of our strategy for the long-term is to have a real identity of entertaining football. The fans here deserve it, they ask for it so that’s something Thomas will bring to the table also.
“The fans are right to be sceptical but the proof is we have to put a team on the pitch that wins games and plays entertaining football.
“The target from the owner is that we always get top six. Micky did a fantastic job but we do have to hit those targets.
“We have a five-year plan, we’re coming into year three and we really need to be up there and Thomas knows that’s where we need to be – and we need to be there this season, absolutely.
“It’s a bold statement but if we add to our squad, I don’t see why not.
“But Thomas loves that pressure. Yeah we’re bringing someone from the academy but he’s not a youth himself. He’s a man who has a bit about him.
“We’ve already had words about certain things. He’s going to challenge me, I’ll challenge him. That has to be the culture at this club to make sure we get better.”
Asghar may have set the bar high but Courts says those are worries for another day.
“We know the targets we have to get to but I don’t see us having to burden ourselves with league positions,” he said.
“The key thing for me is about establishing a connection with the players and then attack each game as it comes.
“I understand there will be pressure, but for me it’s a motivating factor.
“I’ve sat in the stands and watched them suck the ball into the net as we won the Championship and make this place a cauldron against Dundee in the derby. That’s what I need to harness.”
Courts has already received one major boost with the news centre-back Mark Connolly’s knee injury is not as bad as first feared and the player could be back in action early next season.
And there could be another on the horizon if Asghar can complete a deal for Charlie Mulgrew.
“We’re keen on Charlie, both myself and Thomas have met with him,” he revealed.
“He has a couple of other things he’s looking at but we’re quite confident we can bring Charlie to the club.
“Thomas wants to set standards and someone like Charlie Mulgrew, with what he has done with Scotland and winning so many trophies at Celtic, can help us do that.”
The best videos delivered daily
Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox