Jim Spence: Dundee United and Dundee will be in next season’s Premiership

Csaba Laszlo will take Dundee United in the right direction.

Dundee derbies will be back next season, and in the top league. I’m convinced of that.

Csaba Laszlo and Neil McCann know that managing a football team is a bit like fixing a squeaky floorboard. No sooner is one bit nailed down than another bit comes loose, but I’m certain that both will get their houses in good order.

At United, good progress has been sidetracked by recent results, while at Dens, one step forward has often been accompanied by one back.

There is more than enough talent in both sides though, to meet their respective aims and objectives.

With the Premiership on a winter break, the full glare of the football spotlight has shone on United in their last few games, and revealed some deficiencies. Laszlo now has to re-focus the vision of a squad which, on paper at least, looks the strongest in their league.

A 2-0 defeat at league leaders St Mirren, and a 6-1 hammering at second bottom club Falkirk, confirmed that the Tannadice men could face a very dark season unless they shake off their winter blues quickly.

Six points adrift of top spot, United are in a dogfight for the automatic promotion place, and winning the league is the only sure fire way to return to top flight football. However, with a game in hand, and stung by a freak result last week, I think they have the strength of character to redeem themselves.

Laszlo appears to some observers to be an eccentric character, but there is a steely determination to the man.

He has been manager of the year in both Scotland while at Hearts, and in Hungary, and has done well wherever he has been in charge. Having grown up under the communist regime in Romania, Laszlo is a strong character.

He has lost two key players to long term injury; Fraser Fyvie, who was becoming the beating heart of his team, and Scott Fraser, whose strong running and craft on the ball, was emerging impressively after some youthful inconsistency.

That, though, is how the cookie crumbles in football.

Laszlo has added three players and may add more. Now his managerial nous will be tested, and either found wanting or up to the mark. My betting is that he will succeed in recalibrating United and that traction will be regained at Tannadice.

McCann too, is turning things round at Dens.

He was a feisty and driven character as a player and that marks out his managerial style.

A top six finish is where Dundee as a club should be aiming, but that may have to wait until next season. This season though, the Dark Blues have shown they have the craft, but perhaps lack the guile, to get better rewards from games.

Therein is their manager’s challenge – to capitalise more effectively on good play which has seen poor returns in results. Players with the quality of Kamara, O’Hara, and Hendry are good enough to ensure a bright new year for the team.

Football management is an art and I’m convinced both Laszlo and McCann will paint brighter pictures for their clubs.