A very thick skin is needed in football, as Dundee United sporting director Tony Asghar admitted this week.
Even the success United have enjoyed hasn’t stopped a small-minded and petty element in the Tangerines support putting the boot into him.
Pre-Covid, he appeared on the Courier Talking Football podcast with myself and host Eric Nicolson at Meadowside.
He was engaging, frank and very open about his role, but I suspected even then that the social media warriors would soon be on his case, though not to his face, of course.
That’s never the modus operandi of some of the windbags who hide on fans forums and behind anonymous Twitter accounts.
— The Courier Sport (@thecouriersport) May 26, 2022
Asghar quickly left Twitter, having realised that the medium is no place to have civil discourse, especially with punters who aren’t interested in reasonable discussion and, sadly, supporters of a sensible persuasion can no longer read his thoughts or ask him pertinent questions.
He told me as we left the building that day that I had a very good reputation on the west coast but he’d discovered some folk in Dundee didn’t like me.
I told him that the folk who didn’t like me would be the same folk who didn’t like him, and informed him in return that I thought he was a wide boy.
He laughed and took it the way I intended, as a description of a mover and shaker in football, which is exactly what someone in his role needs to be, otherwise the other big dogs in the game – the agents and the fly-by-nights – maul you in negotiations and take you to the cleaners.
Asghar has achieved a great deal in his time in charge at Tannadice.
He is ebullient and larger than life, but some folk mistakenly see that as a sign of arrogance.
If, as some sour folk suggest, he is making good money in the gig, I say good for him.
The job is 24 hours a day and he deserves the rewards that go with putting the hours on the clock and bringing the success he’s brought to the club, along with the rest of the staff at United.
American owner Mark Ogren charged Asghar with overseeing and rebuilding the club – and the results are there for all to see.
The appointment of Tam Courts has confounded the critics after a season which saw fourth place in the Premiership secured and a European adventure bagged.
The owner has admitted that the club will have to become self-financing – and that will be the next test facing its sporting director.
But so far so good has to be the assessment.
The ratio of wages to income will need to be steadily reduced and decent fees achieved regularly for bright youth academy graduates.
But critics should bear in mind where the club was just a few years ago.
The Championship was never where Dundee United belonged but, in football, no one has an automatic right to expect anything on a plate.
Hard graft and solid planning are required to bring success.
United’s sporting director stands guilty as charged of both.