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Tam Courts reflects on ‘furore’ of appointment as Dundee United boss admits European qualification has ramped up expectations

Departed: Courts
Departed: Courts

Tam Courts has opened up on navigating the ‘whirlwind’ of his appointment to guide Dundee United back into Europe.

Courts’ ascension to the dugout last summer was met with widespread scepticism due to his lack of experience as a senior manager.

Tannadice sporting director Tony Asghar also came under fire.

Courts did have a successful stint at the helm of Kelty Hearts in the South of Scotland League on his CV, while his work within the United youth academy was internally admired.

And Courts secured fourth spot in the Premiership in his maiden campaign, sealing a place in the Europa Conference League third qualifying round.

Tony Asghar, left, championed the appointment of Tam Courts

Now able to reflect upon a testing campaign, Courts said: “Tony [Asghar] is bold and brave in his decision-making, and he made a very bold and brave decision by appointing me as the head coach.

“For the first couple of months, that put him under a lot of scrutiny.

“I was under a lot of scrutiny.

“What made it a whirlwind was that scrutiny, furore and the sensationalism that came with the appointment.

“Dundee United are a big club in Scotland but, over the last four or five years, it is a club that has been relegated to the Championship and had a few seasons of turmoil. So, it’s natural that there was a little bit of nervousness.

“From my perspective, I had been successful at Kelty Hearts and had spent two years in the academy at Dundee United. I knew the club and the pathway.

“I actually felt like I was starting from a really strong position.”

Great expectations

However, Courts readily admits that fourth place — United’s highest finish since 2013/14 — represents ‘overachievement’, given top-six football was the primary goal.

Bound for Europe: Courts

He told BBC 5Live: “We have delivered a lot of our strategic objectives and a lot of our performance goals — but I will say that fourth place wasn’t one of those.

“So, you can argue that we have overachieved.”

Ask whether that, in turn, raises pressure levels and expectations for next season, Courts laughed: “I think it probably does, yes!

“What it does means is: over the close-season, we need to be really diligent in terms of how we strengthen the squad and achieving any competitive advantage we can.”

European adventure

With the likes of Slavia Prague, Basel, Anderlecht and FC Twente among a plethora of potential opponents United could face on the continent next term, anticipation is already building ahead of August.

Courts added: “The size and stature of this club is something I want to embrace. It is something to be leaned on for inspiration.

“So, you can just imagine the excitement that is building among the fans and players.

“I am particularly pleased for the supporters, who have been starved for success in recent years.”

Benjamin Siegrist shares goodbye message after ‘unforgettable’ Dundee United spell ends

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