Tam Courts has opened up on his relationship with Dundee United’s sidelined skipper Mark Reynolds.
Reynolds played 41 times for United last year but has had to wait patiently for his chance this term.
The form of Charlie Mulgrew and Ryan Edwards – and the emergence of talented teenager Kerr Smith – has seen Reynolds drop out of the side.
He has started just ONE Scottish Premiership game this term – the opening day defeat to Aberdeen.
His last outing came in the 3-1 Premier Sports Cup defeat to Hibernian in September.
Reynolds blasted referee Willie Collum after that game for his controversial penalty award for the defender’s challenge on Paul McGinn.
Reynolds seems certain to leave United when he contract expires in the summer.
But Courts, speaking in a North American Scottish Coaches Association (NASCA) webinar, still values the role he plays behind the scenes.
Relationships with players
Courts said: “As a manager, if all you ever hold yourself to account on is the relationship you have with the 11 players you select each week then I don’t think you’ll have longevity in the game.
“It will always be superficial relationships.
“Players will be smart enough to realise they can have a relationship with you when they are in the team and no depth to that relationship when not in the team.
“I place a lot of importance on having individual relationships with players. That’s regardless of whether or not they are performing in the team.
“Mark Reynolds is a good example of that.
“He is someone who is club captain and was almost ever present last year.
“He played really well and is a strong performer in the Premiership.
“But, through a change in formation and the signing of Charlie Mulgrew, he hasn’t played as much football as he would have wanted.”
‘Underlying respect’ between Mark Reynolds and Tam Courts
Courts revealed he has intentionally kept the lines of communication open with Reynolds.
“We’ve actually had some frank and – on his behalf – frustrating conversations,” added Courts.
“They have always been open. They have always been man-to-man with a lot of eye contact.
“I’ve managed his expectations and because I’ve done that I’ve always felt he still totally has my back.
“I still use him for feedback and almost a comforting shoulder at times.
“The reason we have that relationship is because I haven’t distanced myself from him because he isn’t playing on a weekend.
“I value him, his experience and his track record. I want to gleam as much from that relationship as possible.
“In the future we can look back and say: ‘I maybe didn’t pick you as often as you’d have wanted but there’s an underlying respect between us.'”