Thomas Courts is aiming to “build something quite powerful” at Dundee United after being unveiled as the club’s new head coach.
Courts, promoted from the Tangerines’ academy into the first-team manager’s office this week, wants to deliver attacking football for the Arabs next season.
Some supporters remain sceptical of his appointment but the 39-year-old former Kelty Hearts boss is keen to win them over with exciting performances on the pitch.
Courts, too, is targeting substance as well as style in his mission to guide the Terrors to a successful Premiership campaign and deep into cup competitions.
“If I look at my previous track record I am a manager who is used to winning, at a different level, but I’m used to maximising the potential of players,” he said.
“I am used to delivering a good fan experience and being someone who is engaged with the fans and the community.
“For a club of this size, with the community initiatives we’ve got, that is important.
“I think in modern day football, all too often the players and coaching staff are detached – which will be accentuated by Covid.
“I want to have a level of accessibility to the fans, a level of identification.
“If we can fuse all that together we can build something quite powerful.”
‘The fans are used to quality, attacking play’
Delving further into how his team will line up, a swashbuckling style of play is Courts’ preference.
He understands the demands of the fans and expectations for a certain brand of football which stem back to Jim McLean’s highly-successful teams of the late 1970s and 80s.
From his role as head of tactical performance, Courts hopes to translate the framework he was building for young players in the academy into the first team.
“I think the fans at this club expect a certain style of play, that’s what they have been used to,” Courts continued.
“And I will be doing my job here when there is an energy around Tannadice at matches.
“In terms of the players on the pitch having an affinity with the fans and then style of play.
“I think a part of me getting the role here is that I have been involved in putting a style of play together and creating that environment.
“What we need to do is get that style at first-team level so when we get a young player into the team, they feel comfortable and can maximise themselves on the pitch.
“The fans here are used to quality, attacking play over the years and that’s, hopefully, something I can deliver.
“Ultimately when you are winning football matches and consistently doing it, the fans will get behind you.
“The players we have here and the ones we are trying to recruit, are ones who want to play football properly.
“The league is going to be very tough next year, it will be very challenging but it’s going to be very exciting – especially with the return of the Dundee derbies.
“The fans here want to see us win matches and maximise the opportunities for our attacking players.”
Initial focus on cup success
In terms of immediate targets, progressing from their Premier Sports Cup group, which kicks off with a trip to Kelty on July 9, is Courts’ focus.
“In the short-term, I believe we haven’t progressed from the League Cup groups for the last three years,” he added.
“So that is an immediate target, it will allow us to experiment and hopefully build a winning culture together.
“That gives us some short-term objectives to hit.”
Courts feels he’s right for role
Despite the doubters, Courts believes he is the right man for the job at Tannadice and hopes to work with his players and staff to prove that point.
He points to his time in charge of the first team last year when former gaffer Micky Mellon and his back-room staff went into Covid isolation and his recruitment policy as evidence.
“I have a clear idea of what needs to be worked on to deliver for the team and for the fans,” he commented.
“From my perspective I can help and control the disruption because I am already in the building.
“I’ve shown leadership capabilities, I have taken the team for ten days and the club know I am a person of integrity as well.
“Which, in the fullness of time, will be key skillsets which will help us perform better on the pitch.
“In any appointment you make you try to reduce risk and increase the probability of being successful.
“The club clearly had a clear understanding of what they were looking for – profile, age, background.
“That’s all still important but it’s less relevant.
“The attraction for the club was that I know all the first-team players and know what the player pathway from the academy is.
“But a club this size needs the best person for the job, so I can guarantee I will make that choice on who is the best person, regardless of age.
“I have already had contact and meetings with senior players and I have been very encouraged by them.”