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JIM SPENCE: Dundee United are a club going places after a long period of drift

Dundee United fans made their voices heard.
Dundee United fans made their voices heard.

Dundee United could be entering the most exciting period in years if their European Conference league game v AZ Alkmaar is any guide.

The infrastructure at Tannadice and the quality of signings points to a club growing and going places.

A sell-out crowd for the terrific win over Alkmaar proves the potential, while a record 5,800 season tickets have been bought.

Owner Mark Ogren has backed the club wholeheartedly and sporting director Tony Asghar, who has taken stick from a few hyper critical fans, has shown ambition and vision.

The relationship between supporters and the club is better than it’s been since the days of the much-loved former owner Eddie Thompson.

Eddie involved fans with supporter representation in the boardroom and, while the Ogren regime has approached things in a different manner, the link with the Dundee United Supporters Foundation representing 2,000 fans who have financially backed the redevelopment of Gussie Park, is testimony to a harmonious alliance.

With both ends of Tannadice bouncing in midweek the old ground was rocking as European football returned after a 10-year absence.

Before Ogren stepped in to buy United, they looked a moribund club.

A sense of drift and disillusionment had enveloped many of the regulars at Tannadice.

Now European football, a highly experienced manager in Jack Ross, and a clutch of exciting signings, has whetted the appetite of Arabs for new adventures.

Union Berlin comparison

Watching a Bundesliga preview I heard FC Union Berlin coach Urs Fischer say of his club: “We don’t have the same kind of resources as other clubs, but despite that, we try to operate at the limits of what’s possible for us and squeeze out everything we can”.

United are the sixth biggest side in Scotland, whereas Union are probably in the bottom four of the Bundesliga in Germany, so I’m not making any strict comparisons.

But United are still smaller than the other big city clubs in Scotland so relatively speaking they’re also squeezing out as much as possible from their resources.

Union, formed in the shadow of the Berlin Wall for the workers of Berlin, have great camaraderie stemming from their role as outsiders in the days when other clubs in East Germany were representatives of the secret police or the army.

United aren’t outsiders but they did spend the first half of their existence as by far the smaller of the two Dundee clubs, and were far less resourced than Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs.

With record season book sales and a commitment to developing top youth prospects as well as ambitious signings, there’s the buzz of a feel-good factor at Tannadice.

There was a sense of theatre about the Alkmaar game with a stunning visual display, preceded by a huge loud, good natured fans march to Tannadice.

A period of sustained domestic success and a European run could allow United to build further on the excellent work which has been done since Ogren’s purchase of the club.

That would be a huge bonus for the fans and a suitable reward for the American’s investment.

EXCLUSIVE: Stuart Beedie on THAT iconic pass for Dundee United goal against Manchester United

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