Dundee United are in a very happy place right now.
Fifth in the Premiership with four wins under their belt heading into the second international break of the campaign.
That’s good news for the fans and rookie boss Tam Courts.
The better news is, despite the really positive start, I can see there is still plenty of room to improve for the Tangerines.
That was clear in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Ross County.
Good start then had to weather a bit of pressure in the second half to see out the result.
They haven’t had many comfortable wins under Courts so far.
But that’s encouraging in itself.
And leads me to think more is to come.
They have kept the good things from last season – being strong at the back and keeping teams out.
But they’ve added a bit going forward with Ilmari Niskanen and Dylan Levitt particularly doing well.
Charlie Mulgrew has had a real influence, too.
No let up
I said right at the start United might take a bit of time to get things going under Courts.
I’ve obviously been proved wrong on that.
They are way ahead of where I thought they’d be by now.
Sitting in fifth, they are flying.
You couldn’t ask for a better start to life as a new manager, could you?
Their start has surprised me a bit, I have to admit.
There’s not a huge amount of experience throughout the whole backroom staff so I thought it might be a slow start.
Being a new manager, I don’t expect Courts to allow the Tangerines to let up right now either.
At moments like this it is easy to take your foot off the gas because you are playing well and getting results but I’d imagine he’ll be determined to keep going.
Because he knows they are far from the finished article, despite their good start.
I still think they are short of a striker and maybe a central midfielder to bring another option in there.
Ian Harkes, though, has been excellent lately.
He’s the perfect example for any young player of what desire and hard work can do for your career.
At the start of the season, you wouldn’t have said Harkes would be a key man, most likely a bit-part player.
But he’s shown what can happen when you apply yourself and do things the right way.
He was good again alongside Jeando Fuchs in midfield and they are a good mix.
Speaking of Fuchs, I was pleased to see Courts so obviously stick up for his player after feeling he’d been racially abused.
In hindsight I think the United gaffer might regret the move with the T-shirt. It was maybe a time to step back and let the investigation run its course.
You can’t blame him for the reaction, I may well have done the same thing.
International break timed perfectly for Dundee as pressure builds
The pressure has suddenly been turned on James McPake and his Dundee side after a poor display at St Johnstone.
Very quickly the story has changed from playing well and being unlucky to something much worse.
Suddenly they have a real issue on their hands to get points on the board.
Often players and managers would want a game to come quickly to get things back on track.
But I can’t help but feel the international break has come at the perfect time for the Dark Blues.
They have time to work on the problems they’ve been having.
The bigger positive, though, will be getting Charlie Adam back involved.
It’s clear they’ve missed him, his creativity and ability to run the midfield.
We’ve seen how important he is to this team.
They desperately need Leigh Griffiths back fit, too. If I was McPake I’d be battering him for the next couple of weeks to get him up to speed.
Overall, though, they’ll be glad to get some time away from the spotlight and an opportunity to get their heads down and work through the issues they’ve got.
I’d be surprised to see the back three again soon, you could see the players weren’t entirely comfortable with it and gaps were left.
It worked against Rangers and hindsight is 20/20 but it’s something McPake will get criticised for.
- Lee Wilkie’s column is published in the Evening Telegraph every Tuesday.