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CALUM WOODGER: No Robbie rebuild needed this summer but Dundee United’s boss faces his biggest transfer test

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He has proven himself to be a shrewd operator in the transfer market but this summer’s window will be Robbie Neilson’s biggest challenge yet as Dundee United manager.

Robbie, with the help of sporting director Tony Asghar, will have been planning for life in the Premiership long before the season was called and United were crowned champions.

With the Championship title in the bag, the hard work can start in earnest.

The details of the transfer window are still to be thrashed out by ‘Project Restart’ but, with dates for a new campaign proposed and June just around the corner, thoughts will already be turning to who is coming in at Tannadice.

Quality additions will be needed if the Tangerines are to achieve their aim of a top six finish but it won’t quite be the rebuild of seasons gone by.

January 2019 saw a host of new arrivals in Robbie’s first window as boss before they failed to secure a path to the Premiership via the play-offs.

Reinforcements brought in over the course of last season in the form of Lawrence Shankland, Liam Smith, Adrian Sporle and Dillon Powers added to the strength the likes of Mark Reynolds, Mark Connolly and Calum Butcher brought the previous winter.

That culminated in the perfect blend for a title march, but creating a side capable of troubling the big players at the top table might not be quite as straightforward.

The challenge for the Terrors this time around will be building amid the volatility and uncertainty in the market due to the coronavirus.

That, and having to manage saleable on-pitch assets for the first time in many a year will provide a stern test for the football department.

In their ranks, the likes of talismanic striker, Shankland, and rising star, Louis Appere, make United look like bona fide top-half contenders.

Holding on to them will be just as important as anyone they bring in between now and action potentially restarting in July and August.

Finances across the game will be stretched but Arabs can take heart that owner Mark Ogren seems confident about the Tangerines’ position moving into the Premiership.

His ambition has been a breath of fresh air, but backing Robbie in the current circumstances will be a real test of his mettle as the club look to recapture former glories.


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Will Christophe Berra be back in Hearts colours next season?

With the Premiership season now in the books we can look ahead to a tantalising Championship battle next term.

Dundee and Hearts have the shared desire to be in the top flight – and both had hoped it might be through league reconstruction.

That, of course, could still happen as Jambos chief Ann Budge prepares to table her proposal following her side’s relegation from the top tier.

However, if it is unsuccessful and Hearts are to take on the Dark Blues in the second tier next term, there will likely only be one winner in the short term.

Long term, there could well be a reorganisation of our game, but in the meantime it looks like it’s going to be a two-way tussle for that top spot.

The Dee can take some encouragement going into it from their good form at the end of last season.

The disarray of the last few years on and off the pitch at Tynecastle should also give them heart.

The Gorgie side won’t automatically be favourites. A couple of good signings and James McPake’s men could steal a march.


It was good to see Watford respect captain Troy Deeney’s decision to not return to training this week due to his fears over coronavirus.

His stance is a perfectly understandable one – yes he is a paid entertainer but he is more than just a footballer. He has a family and his own health to think about.

For me, the Premier League’s return date of June 12 must be revised. With six club staff testing positive, they must take heed of concerns.


At home I’ve been keeping my short game in check with a putting machine and a chipping net for the garden.

It’s all rough right now but it should keep me in good nick for a round when lockdown is eased.

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This article originally appeared on the Evening Telegraph website. For more information, read about our new combined website.