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Tony Asghar addresses ‘bully’ jibes as Dundee United sporting director delivers Tam Courts verdict and reflects on ‘horrible summer’

Tony Asghar
Big call: Asghar

Tony Asghar confesses he endured a ‘horrible summer’ after naming Tam Courts as Dundee United boss.

The Tannadice sporting director was the driving force behind the appointment after being blown away by Courts’ personality and body of work within the club’s academy structure.

However, that cut no ice with many supporters, who were furious with the decision in light of Courts’ complete lack of experience as an SPFL manager.

Courts did have a fine spell in charge of Kelty Hearts in the South of Scotland League, taking over a struggling side and putting many of the building blocks in place from which they are now benefitting.

Nevertheless, Asghar found himself the lightning rod for a ferocious backlash.

Tony Asghar, right, championed the appointment of Tam Courts
Tony Asghar, right, championed the appointment of Tam Courts

In a wide-ranging interview with DUFC, he said: “I took a lot of flak and it was a horrible summer. But, when you look at where we are sitting now, I’m glad we had that.

I’m not turning round and saying ‘I told you so’, but I want people to know we’ll never take any liberties at this club. We are trying to build, make it better and sustainable.

“People think, when they look at me, that I’m a dictator. The word ‘bully’ is used a lot but, interestingly, the three managers I’ve had [Robbie Neilson, Micky Mellon and Courts] always said their piece and had support from me.

“With Tam, we had people calling him a PE teacher and that’s something we laugh about. This guy comes from Lochgelly! He’s from a mining village and has had over 600 games in the Juniors. He’s no wallflower.

“Tam is his own man, he knows what he is doing and he’s only going to grow and grow.”

‘A calculated risk’

Now the dust has settled, United can bask in their highest top-flight finish since 2013/14 and prepare for a return to Europe for the first time since in a decade.

Buy-in: Watt

Asghar continued: “There was a lot of scepticism when we made the appointment, with people saying it was a gamble. It was a calculated risk.

“For me, it was never a gamble. I know what he [Courts] was bringing and what the club was getting.”

Asghar, meanwhile, dismissed the notion that United are spending big in pursuit of sustainable top-six football.

He added: “We aren’t the big payers that people make out. A lot of stories go out that we pay massive wages — we don’t.

We create an environment for players like Tony Watt, who wants to come from another Scottish Premiership club and buy into what we are trying to do.”

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