After 18 months of working side by side, Andy Goldie is in no doubt Thomas Courts is the man to take Dundee United forward.
Courts, United’s new head coach, has made the step up from Goldie’s academy and is being backed to succeed by his former boss despite some having reservations about the former Kelty Hearts gaffer’s suitability.
Since taking on the reins of the Tangerines’ youth set-up in 2019, Goldie has been impressed by the 39-year-old, saying: “He’s certainly made me a better academy director.”
Although the challenge of the first-team manager’s hotseat is different from his previous role as head of tactical performance and U/18s coach, Goldie believes Courts has the necessary skills to be a success.
New United boss Courts ‘a born winner’
“He’s a winner, he has great attention to detail and has a desire to not leave any stone unturned,” the United youth chief said.
“He wants to provide the best possible service to the players and staff he works with.
“He’s articulate but he’s just a born winner.
“He sets high standards and if you don’t meet those standards he’ll try to help develop you.
“You’ll be left knowing, in no uncertain terms, however, that you have to meet those standards if you want to be in his starting XI and take this club forward.
“It’s easy to say: ‘He’s an academy coach and a junior manager’.
“That’s just a small part of who he is and who he is as a person will reflect on who he becomes as a head coach.”
Kicking off with Kelty win key
For Goldie, that will to win needs to translate into results quickly.
Courts will make his debut as full-time Terrors boss against his old team Kelty in the Premier Sports Cup on July 9.
Picking up all three points in the group stage clash in Fife is just the start, though, with Goldie reiterating Courts’ appointment is a long-term project.
He continued: “Regardless of whether you’re a fan or work for the club or you’re a player, it’s important, you want to win games.
“Ultimately, that’s the end goal in football.
“I understand the fans being a wee bit unsettled by the news and showing a bit of scepticism because it’s unknown.
“Given the last 18 months as well, the last thing anyone needs is more uncertainty, but Tam will succeed at this club.
“He will want automatic success, of course. He’ll want to win his first game of the season against Kelty, have a good cup run and do well in the league.”
Re-build on the cards at Tannadice
Looking ahead to the future, Goldie believes there is plenty for fans to be positive about.
He expects Courts to perform something of a makeover in the first-team ranks, with a focus on youngsters and attacking football.
He continued: “There will be a process behind that – an integration of young players, a change in playing style and that will also excite the fans.
“Our fans have been absolutely fantastic in supporting our young players down the years, not just in my time here but before me, too.
“Our club is renowned for developing young players and a big part of that is how fans respond to them and make them feel.
“The fans know we all have the best interests of the club at heart.
“People are claiming it’s a brave decision by (sporting director) Tony (Asghar) but, for me, it’s a sensible decision.
“Tam’s had an 18-month interview process; he’s come into the club and had a massive impact already. He’s just in a more prominent position now.
“He’ll continue to make the impact he has and build on that.”
Performance strategy coming to fruition
When he first came to the club at the start of 2019, Goldie worked closely with new owner Mark Ogren and sporting director Tony Asghar on developing a performance strategy.
Plucking a top-team boss from the academy was always part of the plan and Goldie is pleased to see the United board select Courts – someone who he believes will build on youth development.
“I’m not diluting the fact that it’s a big step up but he’s better prepared now for it having spent 18 months with the academy,” he said.
“He’s fully invested in the club and understands the performance strategy, the style of play we’re trying to integrate across the whole club and he gets player development as well as winning games.
“I’ve absolutely no doubt whatsoever he is the right man for the job. He’s the man that’s going to help take this club forward.
“I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he can achieve both in the short term and in the long term as well.
“We were absolutely delighted to have 11 academy players playing last season, six of which were debuts.
“Archie Meekison scoring his goal on his starting debut and lighting up the game against Kilmarnock, Kerr Smith, Lewis Neilson, these boys have had a real big impact in the first team.
“We want that now to be sustainable and completed with success, whether that’s a run in the cup, a higher position or whatever it looks like short term.
“It’s important we invest in the long term as well and give these boys opportunity when they deserve it and earn it. That’s the most important part.”
New boss ‘gained automatic respect’
Goldie has no qualms about Courts working with experienced pros as well as new talent after his spell in charge of the first team last season.
Courts stepped in for Micky Mellon for 10 days last December, taking the team in a Premiership defeat at Livingston amid a Covid outbreak in the United camp.
Goldie believes that experience will stand the new Tangerines’ gaffer in good stead.
“We work closely with the first-team players as well and the feedback from when he stepped in for Micky last season was very good,” he commented.
“The detail, the attention and service he provided the players, they all gained automatic respect for him.
“At that point, I was very proud that he and the rest of the staff that went up to the first team were able to provide the players with that quality of service.
“I’ve absolutely no doubt whatsoever Tam will be able to build on that.
“He’s already got the respect of the first-team players and, if there are any doubts, by the first week of training they’ll be quashed.
“He’ll do his talking on the pitch and gain that respect by how he communicates with and treats players.”
United return to pre-season training this week as they prepare for the 2021/22 Premiership campaign to kick off with a trip to Aberdeen on August 1.