Art manager

‘Jack Ross is on a different level’: Dundee United chief purrs on manager he’s long admired

Dundee United’s new head coach Jack Ross is unveiled by sporting director Tony Asghar.

The Tannadice club must be experts in the art of managerial recruitment.

They’ve had to consider options in each of the past two summers and it’ll be a surprise if Asghar doesn’t already have a folder marked “Next manager” saved on his desk.

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Except that this time, the sporting director hopes that things will be different. This time he expects him to kick off with his latest date, which he presented to reporters at a press conference in St Andrews on Wednesday. Asghar is confident there will be no need to consult a list again as he revealed Ross has always been on top.

They even went so far as to talk but it was never the right time. Ross has always had a job. United picked up Micky Mellon two summers ago and then signed on last year when Tam Courts left his role as tactical performance manager.

Mellon and Courts were more than decent appointments, with Courts in particular leading United to a recent high of fourth place and back in Europe after a ten-year absence. But Asghar argues the United manager’s seat was always kept warm for Ross.

It turns out that fate finally conspired to finally let him sit there this summer.

Not only was Ross available after turning down an approach from Dundee, but United were also on the lookout for a new manager following Courts’ departure to pursue other options. He was recently appointed director of Honved in Budapest.

“Jack has always been an outstanding candidate for me personally, ever since I came into this role,” Asghar said. “He knows it and I know it. We talked a lot but unfortunately it was at times when he was working.

“So it was an easy transition. We had a number of conversations over the last seven or eight days. Once we spoke to the board and the board spoke to Jack, I think it was very easy to understand that he was the right person to take us forward.

“I’m watching the Scottish Premiership and where is Jack sitting?” he added. “We have a top manager in the league which gives us a real head start. No disrespect to what we’ve had before, the guys have fulfilled their specific roles, but Jack is on a different level for Dundee United.

Asghar wouldn’t be human if he didn’t feel mildly paranoid about the departure of three managers under his watch since 2019, two in the past 12 months.

“I don’t think I take it personally,” he said. “I think it’s indicative of the way football is now. I think everyone is looking for their next move.

“Whether you are a player or a manager, there will always be opportunities. It’s such a transient industry. People move and the role of a sporting director is to keep that structure in place to allow a manager to come in, take a look at what we’re doing and adapt slightly to improve and make us better.

“It shouldn’t really affect things if someone else quits their job. I think everyone who left the football club left on good terms, but I hope Jack stays longer.