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Dundee United boss Micky Mellon uses ‘monster in the wardrobe’ analogy to describe players’ experience of top flight

Micky Mellon has urged his players to believe in themselves.

Micky Mellon understands Dundee United fans’ craving to see their club reclaim its top six, trophy-winning status of old.

In fact, he is desperate to deliver it for them.

But the Tangerines boss insists his fledgling Premiership side are still a work in progress – and will be until they believe they can overpower “the monster in the wardrobe” that stands between them and top flight mastery.

“I can absolutely see the size of the football club, the history of the football club and how well its run,” Mellon told Graham Spiers’ Press Box podcast.

“The size of it – it deserves to be back up there in and among the top end of Scottish football again.

“But it has to be given time. People can run away. It’s going to take time to grow the players as individuals.

“I think they suffer a wee bit from (a lack of) belief at the minute, some of them, because they’re at this level for the first time.

“But as they’re going through the games, going to some of these places for the first time, coming up against some of these players for the first time… it’s a wee bit like seeing the monster in the wardrobe isn’t quite as big as they thought it was. They can compete with it quite comfortably – and overcome it on a lot of occasions.

“It’s about building that, growing it and moving it towards that Dundee United (of old).”

In a wide-ranging discussion, Mellon also touched on his career in English football, the differences between the game north of the border and down south and his approach to football management.

But his passion shone through on the topic of United – a club whose history he is inspired, rather than intimidated, by.

“I could probably name you the best players (of the Jim McLean era), I could tell you the games they played in,” he said.

“Those European nights, those Cup Finals, the great players who played for Dundee United and Scotland…

“You’d have to say Jim McLean, along with Alex Ferguson and all these guys, pretty much helped shape the way Scottish football is now. The influence is still there.

“They’re some of the top managers that have ever managed in Scotland.

“So yeah, I’m very, very aware (of the history of the club). I speak to Dave Bowman all the time, we’ve had Paul Hegarty in, and I love speaking about times they had.

“They tell me the stories about Jim McLean, the European tours, how strict he was, and some of the funny things that happened, the crazy madness of it all, at times.

Former United boss Jim McLean strikes a familiar touchline pose at Tannadice.

“But they’re the first people to say that took a long time. And football’s very different now to what it was back then.

“When you look back at all the names who played for Dundee United, how many of them, if they were playing in this day and age, would last long at Dundee United now before finding their way into the higher ends of English football?

“Things have really changed in that way. But that doesn’t mean to say the passion for the football club (has gone).

“I’m right inside it. I love being the manager of Dundee United. I love its history. In no way do I fear it. I embrace it.

“I’m thrilled to bits that I’m the manager of a football club with such great history that I can use (with) my players all the time and say to them: ‘Do you know what a fantastic football club you’re playing for?’

“The history is something to be embraced, to help us to move forward.

“You only have to look at the pictures round the walls to see what a fantastic time that was, under such a brilliant manager.”

Despite his pride in being handed the reins at Tannadice, Mellon does admit to one regret about his time in the City of Discovery.

But the United boss hopes it’s one that will be consigned to the history books sooner rather than later.

He explained: ““I’m just a wee bit upset, if you like, that I’ve not had the opportunity to work in front of the fans.

Dundee United fans have been unable to support team at Tannadice this season due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Dundee United fans have been unable to support team at Tannadice this season.

“We do really miss the fans because the fans create that intensity, the whip, if you like, that sometimes you need to get that wee bit more out of the players, or out of the game.

“At the minute there’s no last 15 minute roar or nerves. There’s no start to the game, there’s no roar after a goal. There’s no tension when you feel pressure coming on in the game because you know the crowd goes a certain way.

“So you’re missing all those qualities that crowds bring. And the crowds that we would be getting at the minute, to not have them, I feel disappointed about it.

“I’m looking forward to us all getting through this and putting the whole package together.

“We want to get it back to a place that satisfies the fans, satisfies my owners and myself, and we have a group of players playing into the later stages of cups, operating against the top clubs in the country every week, going into it and looking like they’ve got a right good chance of winning the game.

“We’re working towards trying to do all of that again, it’s just sad that we’re not doing it in front of crowds.”