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Dundee United: Who are the managerial runners and riders for Tannadice job following Steve McClaren’s withdrawal from race?

Micky Mellon, Billy McKinlay and Malky Mackay
Micky Mellon, Billy McKinlay and Malky Mackay

Dundee United are still in the hunt for a new manager to replace Robbie Neilson after one-time favourite Steve McClaren pulled out of the race.

It is understood family reasons were behind the former England, Middlesbrough and Newcastle gaffer’s decision to reject the chance to take over at Tannadice.

Ian Roache assesses the remaining candidates…

Billy McKinlay

Odds: 6-5 favourite.

McKinlay (51), nicknamed Badger, is just the latest contender to carry the favourite’s tag.

He is one of United’s finest-ever midfielders, making 284 appearances for the club and scoring 31 goals.

He left the Tangerines for a fee of £1.75 million in September 1995, just after scoring a hat-trick in a 3-2 derby win over Dundee. Not a bad parting gift.

His first step into coaching came at Fulham, where he took the reserves, and he was named as Northern Ireland’s assistant boss in 2012.

McKinlay has also been first-team coach at Watford, assistant at Real Sociedad in Spain, boss of Norwegian side Stabaek, and coach at both Sunderland and West Ham United.

Pros: Knows the club, has plenty to prove and is loved by United fans.

Cons: No experience of being a manager outright in either Scotland or England.

Malky Mackay

Odds: 9-4.

Just five days ago, the job looked to be Mackay’s if he wanted it but even that is a long time in football, especially when United are involved.

The current SFA performance director comes with a fair amount of baggage because of the unacceptable nature of the texts that surfaced after he left Cardiff City.

His backers, though, would point out that he has worked at both Wigan and the SFA since, serving the governing body well for three and a half years. Mackay’s supporters would also argue that he is a reformed character and deserves to be judged as the person he is now.

His managerial CV is the most impressive of the remaining candidates, having bossed Cardiff in the English Premier League and taken the Welsh side to the League Cup final. He has also managed Watford as well as Wigan.

Pros: Experienced, obviously keen to get back into club management and knows the Scottish game inside out after those SFA years.

Cons: He could struggle to put his controversial past behind him and a fair number of fans are opposed to his appointment.

Micky Mellon

Odds: 3-1.

His name has been there or thereabouts for over a week now. A Scot who is Paisley-born, Mellon isn’t well-known in these parts it’s fair to say.

That is because the Tranmere Rovers gaffer’s entire playing and managerial career has been spent in England after he joined Bristol City as a 17-year-old in 1989.

However, Mellon deserves a look because he has achieved, even if it has been in the lower levels down south.

He led Fleetwood Town to the Conference Premier title in 2012, was a League Two runner-up with Shrewsbury Town in 2015 and won successive promotions with Tranmere in 2018 and last year.

Pros: Obviously has something about him as a coach given what he has done at the aforementioned teams and would know the English lower-league market well.

Cons: Hasn’t managed in Scotland before.

Dundee United approach Tranmere Rovers seeking permission to speak to Micky Mellon

Tommy Wright.

Tommy Wright

Odds: 8-1.

Wright – still on Tangerines sporting director Tony Asghar’s list of candidates – doesn’t need much of an introduction or explanation. He has, of course, been the most successful manager ever to put on a tracksuit at St Johnstone.

Pros: Has a proven track record at Scottish Premiership level and won the Scottish Cup for Saints against a certain other Tayside team.

Cons: At no stage has there appeared to be interest shown by Wright in taking the job and he the structure at United would be a hurdle unless changed to suit him.

Austin MacPhee

Odds: 12-1.

Has just agreed to stay on as assistant coach to new Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough.

MacPhee has been interviewed for the United vacancy, though, and could still be a part of the Tannadice set-up.

He is well respected by many in Scottish football despite his struggles when caretaker coach of Hearts following Craig Levein’s removal from the post last October. He has also worked at Cupar Hearts, Cowdenbeath and St Mirren.

Pros: You don’t get asked to rejoin a national team’s coaching set-up if don’t have ability and work well with a variety of players.

Cons: Would be his first senior managerial position and he would perhaps need time to adjust to shouldering that level of responsibility.

Jon Daly.

Jon Daly

Odds 25-1.

Put your hands up if you think Jon should get the job.

The man at the centre of one of the United supporters’ favourite chants of recent years, Daly is still well liked and respected at his former club as a Scottish Cup winner.

The ex-Tangerines’ captain has also been interviewed for the post and involvement for him can’t be ruled out yet.

Was a future manager in his own right when he conducted himself so well during two interim spells in charge of Hearts.

Pros: Loved by the fans and will definitely be a manager somewhere in future.

Cons: Would be his first job as gaffer and aged just 37 could be deemed to need more experience.

Steve McClaren gives his reasons for turning Dundee United down as Malky Mackay comes back into the race

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