Dundee United caretaker boss Laurie Ellis made it two wins out of two with victory over St Mirren on Saturday. Our football writer Ian Roache assesses how his spell in charge compares with those of the other men who have stepped into the role since the Jim McLean era.
Gordon Wallace: As well as having written his name into Dundee folklore as the man who scored the winner against Celtic when they won the League Cup in 1973 and been a former manager at Dens, Wallace was a key figure at United over the years. He moved to the Tangerines in August 1976 via US side Seattle Sounders after his distinguished playing career at the Dark Blues ended. He was appointed coach under boss Jim McLean in 1983 before leaving to become manager in his own right across the road at Dens. He returned to Tannadice to work under Ivan Golac in 1993. Wallace became caretaker in March 1995 after Golac’s departure. He was in charge for a 2-1 loss away to Motherwell and a home draw against Hearts before making way for Billy Kirkwood at the end of that month. Record: One loss and one draw.
Billy Dodds: Assistant manager Billy Dodds stepped forward following the exit of Gordon Chisholm from Tannadice in January 2006. He was the only caretaker to boast a 100% win record before Ellis. Former United player Dodds was in the dugout for the Tangerines’ home game against Falkirk and masterminded a 2-1 win over the Bairns before stepping aside for another former Tangerines’ striker, Craig Brewster, midway through the month. Record: One win.
Dave Bowman: The popular ex-player was handed a thankless task following the sacking of Jackie McNamara in late September 2015. The Tangerines were already in deep trouble and boasted just five points from their first nine games. Bowman took charge for the match at Firhill against fellow strugglers Partick Thistle on October 3 and that was the day they sank to the foot of the Premiership, leapfrogged by the Jags thanks to a painful 3-0 loss. Bowman did a professional job during his short stint but must have been a relieved man when he made way for Mixu Paatelainen midway through the month. Record: One loss.
Gordon Young: He was Paatelainen’s assistant and did his duty after the big Finn left the scene on May 4, 2016, following relegation at Dens Park two days earlier. Young dug in and did very well under the circumstances. His first game was a 3-2 win up at Inverness, which was followed by a 3-3 home draw with Partick and a 4-2 final-day victory down at Kilmarnock. He retired unbeaten before Ray McKinnon took over. Record: Two wins and one draw.
Laurie Ellis: Ellis can now boast of being the best of the bunch. A reluctant arrival in the dugout following the departure of his gaffer and friend McKinnon following a home loss to Inverness on October 21, Ellis took training the following Monday and then prepared for what looked like a tricky trip to face bogey team Dumbarton the following Saturday. Showing boldness and self-belief, he made five changes and it paid off as United won 2-0. With that excellent result in the bag, the momentum carried forward to Saturday’s home game against league leaders St Mirren at Tannadice. With the pressure right on the players to pull level on points with the Buddies at the top of the Championship, Ellis was smiling again as United won 2-1 – a scoreline that flattered the visitors. Record: Two wins.