Tam Courts’ pre-season promise of a more free-flowing Dundee United looks closer to becoming a reality after a successful first transfer window.
The new Tannadice boss has brought in no fewer than six fresh faces, losing just two key men: both at a tidy profit.
Piece by piece, Courts is re-building his team and Courier Sport has taken a look back at United’s business in summer trading to see where it leaves project tangerine.
United’s first acquisition and, while he may not be a Manchester United prospect or a flying international winger, was arguably the most important.
The former Scotland and Celtic star remains a top-notch defender and a consummate professional — rather underlined when he was snapped admiring his six-pack ahead of a recent win over St Johnstone.
Cheeky set piece sees Charlie Mulgrew score his 1st Dundee United goal since returning… pic.twitter.com/35FwwlDnFb
— SHEDHEDS 🇮🇹🏴 (@shedheds) July 17, 2021
Even at 35 years of age, Mulgrew could have chosen to remain in England but desired a move back to Scotland. United are the beneficiaries of that.
He will be a leader in the dressing room, an organiser on the pitch, a set-piece threat and is tactically pivotal as the ball-playing centre-back in Courts’ back-three. A proper coup.
The Northern Ireland international initially appeared to be a solid back-up to Benjamin Siegrist; a safe pair of hands in case of emergency.
However, injury to United’s 2020/21 Player of the Year has seen Carson grab the gloves for the foreseeable future and, based on his initial outings, he won’t let anyone down.
Aside from his well publicised injury issues, there is little double about Carson’s quality and pedigree — more than 300 senior games for the likes of Hartlepool, Bury and Motherwell speaks to that.
An international recall was a welcome reward for his return to action of late.
Lawrence Shankland’s £1m move to Beerschot left mighty shoes to fill but, based on his early outings, McNulty appears hungry to step into them.
He was a fire-cracker of energy and impetus against St Johnstone; his first start since returning to the club for a second loan spell from Reading.
The Scotland striker is set to be deployed in his favoured position at the business end of United’s attack — he was rather wasted scurrying the flanks under Micky Mellon last term — and is a proven goal-getter.
Given he’s is in the last year of his deal with the Royals, McNulty knows he needs to produce a big campaign and that drive and determination can only be good for United.
A lack of creativity in the heart of midfield was a persistent problem for United last season.
In Manchester United loan star Levitt, Courts hopes to have remedied that.
Even in the playmaker’s limited appearances to date, he is clearly a cool, composed young footballer, adept at dictating the pace of the game and cutting through the lines with his passing.
Combined with the all-action, tenacious Jeando Fuchs, it would appear to be well-balanced midfield base on the occasions United deploy a 4-2-3-1.
For all sporting director Tony Asghar is sometimes the focus of criticism from fans, he has spearheaded a recruitment drive which has brought a swathe of international experience.
Niskanen is another.
The flying Finn has already won six caps for his country, including lining up against France in the Parc des Princes and playing in direct opposition to Gareth Bale in an encounter with Wales.
He will bring pace, power and a willingness to whip dangerous deliveries into the box — all of which were lacking last term — and one suspects it will be manna from heaven for an arch-predator like McNulty.
The deadline day six-figure departure of Rangers goal hero and academy graduate Jamie Robson to Lincoln City was always on the cards.
The English League One side had been pursuing the left-back all summer but, thankfully, United had long been on the trail of Hamilton favourite McMann.
Sealing a deal for the versatile defender, who can play all across the back four, was vital as the Tangerines look to maintain the rearguard stability that served them so well last season.
The 25-year-old will slot in seamlessly alongside an experienced stable of defenders at Tannadice and should, hopefully, help them continue to provide a platform for Courts’ creative cavalry to express themselves.
The window felt like a slow-burner at times, such was the amount of time which elapsed between Carson’s signing and their next capture, McNulty.
However, looking back, United can be satisfied with a host of international arrivals and have addressed long-term problems — pace and width, and creativity in the heart of the park.
Being picky, there is still a lack of depth in midfield and it would not take many injuries, suspensions or losses of form before the likes of Flo Hoti, Chris Mochrie and Declan Glass are being relied upon.
Nevertheless, United have repeatedly stated that they are ready to place faith in their youngsters — and will be as good as their word, if necessary.