Tam Courts will relish the challenge of winning over even the most ardent of sceptics if he is appointed Dundee United boss.
That’s the view of legendary former Kelty Hearts captain Shaun Greig, who has urged the Tannadice faithful not to judge a book by its cover.
Greig was a stalwart of Courts’ all-conquering Kelty side, which rose from the doldrums of relegation battles to become a truly dominant junior outfit — winning five major honours and playing some fine football along the way.
And he is adamant Courts is responsible for laying the foundations for the success the Maroon Machine are enjoying today, culminating in winning promotion to League 2 last Sunday.
Greig understands the reservations of some fans after the 39-year-old, who has never managed in league football, emerged as the runaway favourite to succeed Micky Mellon — but has dismissed suggestions that it would be a backwards step.
“I’ve seen the comments from fans talking about a lack of experience and, had I not worked under Tam, maybe I’d be thinking the same thing — but they are in for a shock,” said Greig.
— The Courier Sport (@thecouriersport) May 27, 2021
“He won’t be fazed if he gets the job. That will motivate him. He’ll be determined to prove the doubters wrong and give the supporters a young, exciting team that they can be really proud of.
“He’d go in there, address the players respectfully but forcefully, and get his ideas across — and when the players hear his thoughts and how he wants to play the game, they will buy in. I guarantee it.
“I hope the fans get behind him if Dundee United do give him the job because, if they do, then they are clearly doing it for a reason. Nobody at United wants their club to fail or lose football matches.”
And while a dugout novice at SPFL level, Greig bristles at the notion that Courts — United head of tactical performance — does not have a CV worthy of consideration or respect.
“It’s a different level, but Kelty Hearts were on the brink of relegation when he walked through the door,” added Greig. “Tam raised the standards, changed the club and laid the foundation for what you see now — an SPFL team.
“That’s a hell of an achievement and shows he doesn’t mind a challenge.
“It’s only when you actually work alongside someone, that you really get a sense of their attention to detail. Even at Kelty’s level, his dedication and the time he devoted to learning and progressing — working all the way to his UEFA ‘A’ Licence badge — was incredible.
“Tam turned down big money to stay within football. He’s a clever guy, was running his own business and snubbed some really lucrative opportunities to stay in football, coach at the juniors and learn his craft.
“Anyone that suggests something is being handed to him, or he hasn’t earned it, doesn’t know Tam’s story.”
‘You read about that in Alex Ferguson’s book’
The Courier revealed on Thursday that Courts will not be the only candidate interviewed for the post, with United considering other options, but Greig reckons his old gaffer fits the bill for man management, youth development and attacking football.
“His man management is second-to-none and I’ve no doubt that he already knows every player in that building,” continued Greig. “I remember he used to do things like turn up to a player’s house to check on them if something wasn’t right.
“These are the sort of things you read about in Alex Ferguson’s book — things not every manager does, by a long chalk — and Tam was doing them at Kelty.
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) May 13, 2021
“His philosophy would be fast, attractive football and bringing through the youngsters. He’ll give young players a chance to join the senior group, mix with the older lads and really find their feet with the first-team.
“Tam was never one to sit back and soak up pressure — even in games when we were the underdogs — so his United team would go out there, take the game to the opposition and look to win every week.”
We are delighted to introduce the leader, the captain… Shaun "Skip" Greig.
— 🇱🇻 Maroon Machine Podcast 🇱🇻 (@MaroonPodcast) April 20, 2021
It underlines the esteem with which Greig holds Courts, that he believes United would ultimately prove to be a stepping stone to even bigger things.
He added: “There will be no stopping him there. If he gets this chance, I could see him going even higher. That’s how good he is. He is mega-talented, football-obsessed and I have said from day one: if he gets the opportunity, he will be a success at a really high level.”