Csaba Laszlo’s departure marks dangerous territory for Dundee United.
The Hungarian had to go, of that there’s no doubt. It’s why he arrived in the first place, and why he didn’t go after failure to win promotion, which is the mystery.
Laszlo was a decent man in the wrong horror movie. Dundee United have gone through managers in recent times like Dracula going through a blood bank.
They must get this next appointment spot on or supporters will be baying for the blood of chairman Mike Martin.
Many fans gave Martin the benefit of the doubt despite reservations that, having been previous chairman Stephen Thompson’s right hand man, he was party to the big decisions which have left the club in its present predicament.
Now he has a huge decision to make.
Does he stick with Laurie Ellis and hope that the young coach can transform the team fortunes, or does he go for experience.
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Managers currently in work will cost United compensation, but they are prepared to bite that bullet, while free agents like Jim McIntyre, Robbie Neilson, and Billy McKinlay would only cost their wage package.
I had a long conversation with McKinlay on Thursday.
He’s certainly interested in talking to United and said they were the only Scottish Championship side he would consider because of his affection for the club.
Director Jimmy Fyffe, who has invested almost half a million pounds in United, has discounted suggestions that the club had dismissed him as a candidate.
“I would love to see his CV in here”, he told me, and the mention of McKinlay has certainly excited many fans.
This decision is a huge one, which could consign United to oblivion for years, or revive the club on its way to promotion and the top league.
Appointing a manager is always a gamble: often a good track record doesn’t transfer to a new club.
For the next few games United are set to stick with Ellis who worked with Laszlo, and won his two matches when he took interim charge following Ray McKinnon’s departure.
He didn’t feel ready for the job then, but big opportunities like this rarely present themselves, and folk will question his ambition if he doesn’t throw his hat into the ring this time.
He knows the players, is already on the payroll, has two good men close by to assist in Craig Easton and Scott Robertson, and now has a brief window of opportunity to put his own ideas into practice.
Going with Ellis would maintain a sense of continuity for a squad which is not short of ability, but has under-performed.
United were hammered last week by a Ross County team under the tutelage of two young coaches in Steven Ferguson and Stuart Kettlewell, who have grown steadily into their joint managerial role.
County showed energy, organisation, tempo, commitment, and endeavour.
All of those things seem lacking at Tannadice, but Ellis now has a few games in charge to show that United possess those qualities too.
The right managerial choice could bring back missing fans.
The wrong one could make Tannadice a ghost town.