It’s ten years since I’ve covered Dundee United in Europe.
I’m unlikely to forget the trip to Moscow where airport officials detained me and my BBC colleague Alan Preston (aka Biscuits), while they rummaged and reenged through our broadcasting equipment, insisting that the forms required for the gear were incorrect.
At one stage they put us on a mini-bus and had a dodgy looking geezer drive us around a wooded forest area for a couple of hours as we panicked that KGB headquarters was the destination.
Finally, tired of the game and having rattled us to their satisfaction, they cleared us and we pitched up at the media hotel four hours later, shaken but not stirred.
To compound matters, Dynamo Moscow thumped United 5-0 in the Tannadice club’s 110th European appearance to round off a miserable trip.
European football, though, undoubtedly brings an air of glamour and excitement to the humdrum domestic game – and united fans will once again be sampling the delights after making it to the qualifiers.
And as Courier football writer Alan Temple pointed out, United’s finances could be set for a very healthy boost.
Not that long ago, with Scottish clubs often heading out after the first round, qualifying could be an expensive business, once travel costs had been deducted along with the potentially negative impact of an early start to the season.
Now though there’s a decent return to be made.
That cash improves with further progress in the competition and it becomes a virtuous circle, with the extra revenue and the glamour of European competition allowing the club to attract better players.
Dundee FC need to put this season’s disappointments behind them and fire on all cylinders to return to the Premiership in one leap.
A club with the potential fan base they have shouldn’t be near the Championship.
To escape it, they need a manager who can organise, inspire and motivate a squad which will need to be radically overhauled.
The average age of the team needs to be reduced and the fans need to have their faith restored.
Gordon Strachan’s role at Dens has been unclear among supporters but now, as director of football, he’ll have overarching responsibility for identifying and attracting new players to the club as well as having a major input on the most pressing task – hiring the next manager.
Tim Keyes and John Nelms have to lead from the front in showing determination to restore the club’s fortunes and put an end to its yo-yo reputation.
Medium to long-term, the youth set up has to be properly resourced to compete with – and beat – neighbours United in developing the best local talent, and there are already some positive signs on that front.
I’m told that plans to push ahead with the new stadium at Camperdown are being pursued determinedly and, while I’ve said I think a more central location in the city would’ve been better, I’m in full agreement with the need to move from Dens, unless the old ground can somehow be reconfigured and rebuilt to meet modern day needs.