Dundee United academy chief Andy Goldie insists Thomas Courts will be unfazed if pitted against Steven Gerrard in the Tannadice dugout this weekend.
United host Premiership leaders Rangers on Sunday and it’s unclear whether boss Micky Mellon and his coaching staff will all return in time after a coronavirus outbreak hit the backroom team.
Head of tactical performance Courts took the Terrors in last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Livingston, assisted by fellow-academy coach Adam Asghar, minus nine players also ruled out because of Covid precautions.
Although they didn’t get the result they were after, Goldie reckons Courts should be proud of the way he acquitted himself and would have no concerns over him doing the same against the Gers.
“He’s a very intelligent and humble man, so he isn’t fazed at all,” the United academy director said.
“That’s his natural environment, first-team management, and that’s where he’ll be one day.
“He’s on a development journey with us at the moment, having a real impact on our young academy players, and that will be the same at first-team level sometime in the future I’m sure.
“Potentially going up against Rangers and Steven Gerrard won’t faze the guys.
“The level of preparation and the detail they go into with the academy probably can’t be matched at a number of first teams.
“We’re already operating at a high performance level so it’s just the same. It’s basically lifting our methods and transferring them across to players of an older age with more experience.
“The guys are all great at man-management and they work hard to give the players the best situation possible so it’s the exact same.
“That’s why they’ve taken it in their stride because there’s not a lot changed for us in how we operate and work.”
Goldie says there was never a question over who the club would promote to temporary gaffer while Mellon was out, insisting former Kelty Hearts boss Courts was always top of the list.
The former SFA Performance School coach also revealed he was quick to rule himself out of the running.
“That’s what we’re all about at Dundee United,” the 35-year-old added.
“Since we came in back in January of last year we’ve made our academy not just about developing players but staff, too.
“When an opportunity like this comes up, there was no decision to be made.
“We work with a real pathway within the club and that includes the staffing structure as well.
“They are the coaches, long gone are my days of being able to coach. I’ve probably forgotten how, to be honest!
“There was absolutely no chance, even if offered, I’d have stood in their way. We’d have always promoted Tam and Adam.”
Goldie is now looking for Courts and Asghar to make the next step in their coaching journey, tipping both for first-team management roles sometime in the not-so-distant future.
He continued: “Tam is more than ready for the opportunity and he will become a first-team manager in the future – that’s part of his plan. Adam’s the same.
“They’re high quality and both are committed to their own development as well.
“It was fantastic to see them get that opportunity. The feedback was good; they took it in their stride and represented the club really well.
“I’m really proud of how they’ve conducted themselves in extremely difficult circumstances.
“We’re all absolutely delighted for the guys because it’s another string in their bow and a fantastic experience for them.
“I’m sure they’ve learned from it and will continue to learn this week until the first-team staff return.
“If they can make an impact at that level, even if it’s minimal like the players’ experience or preparation for the game and representing the manager, it’s been a successful couple of weeks for them.”
‘Our academy staff had to step up and take responsibility’
Academy operations continued at the weekend, despite the secondment of a number of staff to Almondvale.
Goldie was quick to praise his team for responding well to the testing circumstances and highlighted others who contributed in West Lothian.
He commented: “It’s far from ideal circumstances but I can’t speak highly enough of all our academy staff.
“The strength and the quality we’ve got to be able to still deliver our programme from the U/18s all the way down and have a bunch away with the first team.
“On top of Tam and Adam, we had our analyst Liam Ross, goalie coach Sam Devine, Ewan Anderson and Jeff Clarke all at Livi, too.
“We do know we can cope because we have a high quality of staff. Michael McPake, the head of operations, stepped up and took on extra responsibility. Andy Steeves, Andy Payne and all the part-time staff are the same.
“These guys have all stepped up to deliver the programme we pride ourselves on.
“It really shows, although Tam’s the guy in the limelight, the strength in depth we have at the club and the academy.
“There were several promotions in there, apart from myself, of course!”