And so it has actually happened. Not even a year after joining Dundee United, Csaba Laszlo has departed Tannadice and we are yet again on the hunt for a new manager. This club badly needs some stability and the board, who have been guilty of far too many poor appointments, must find someone who has the ability to get us out of the Championship this season.
I’ll be honest, I don’t hold anything against Laszlo. He is clearly a passionate man and he was always very vocal in his support of the club but he has been a failure and the decision to terminate his contract is the correct one. In the short-term Laurie Ellis will assume control of the team and it may be the case that he will get at least a few weeks before we bring in someone to take the job permanently.
This summer the board gave Laszlo full control over the playing staff, wage structure and coaching setup. He made a raft of changes and brought in a huge number of players. The idea on paper was a good one but the execution of that plan relies on a manager who can then make a positive difference on the park. Laszlo couldn’t and he is rightly gone but the club is now left with his squad and his infrastructure. Whoever takes over, inherits Laszlo’s legacy.
As for the future, the most common names that appear time and time again are Jim McIntyre and Robbie Neilson. The two former players are both out of work and have been at recent United matches but they divide opinion and, in the case of Neilson, it might be that the job isn’t as appealing as we like to think it is. My own view is that the Dundee United job is still a very attractive one, but that isn’t going to last forever and there may be coaches out there that look at Tannadice and would give it a body swerve given the pressure and the baggage that goes with the manager’s job. Whoever takes charge will need to get us out of this division immediately. This isn’t a job where a new manager will get time to implement a philosophy or a culture at the club. Things will have to start happening quickly.
I still believe our squad is strong. Yes we have obvious frailties but many of those come from bad man-management and poor tactics. Yesterday the players were guilty of making several costly errors but overall the problems in the squad come from the way they have been treated by Laszlo. It might be that we see a brief lift under Ellis, like we did before, and maybe that will buy the board a bit of time before making an appointment.
Part of me would like us to take a chance like St.Mirren did with Jack Ross. The unknown quantity of a young, hungry and passionate Scottish coach might actually be what we need. When you look around it is someone like Barry Robson who might fit that bill. Another former player his is someone who comes across very well and is waiting for a chance to take on a big job. Would it be too much of a risk though? Robson, assisted by Ellis and possibly Easton might actually work but then again if it fails then we are back to square one.
This next appointment is the most important in the club’s history (although it feels like we have said that before). It could be the appointment that breaks the board in terms of them having to step down. It could also be the appointment that revitalises the club and takes us back to the top-flight. It is going to be one or the other and there is no middle-ground.
One thing that we as fans MUST do is support the team again. We wanted Thompson gone, he’s gone. We wanted Laszlo gone, he’s gone. We NEED promotion and we need to get back to the Premiership. One way to do that is to help the team on the park with the backing they need (as difficult as that might be). I’ll be heading to Ayr next Saturday with a fresh attitude and a clean slate, hopefully we take a great crowd up and we can make a difference.