Houston never sat comfortably with Stephen Thompson as his boss. The two would often bicker over budgets and the chairman was never quick in showing the manager support when he needed it.
As a parting shot Houston declared he was leaving as the playing budgets would again go down in the summer and that he felt the club as a whole would struggle to maintain current standards with those cutbacks in place.
In response Thompson declared that the working budget at United was healthy, that they would continue to be better than many in the SPL and there would be a high number of applicants for the managerial position when it became available.
So it has been a bit of a surprise to see 39 year old Jackie McNamara become the new boss at Tannadice.
The rushed decision and the one that they have made seems to point to Peter Houston telling the truth in terms of budgets and that United possibly couldn’t attract the names that were being touted about just a week ago.
Derek McInnes impressed at St Johnstone, and is currently out of a job after his sacking at Bristol City. He is also a former Dundee United player. Yet ‘the Arabs’ didn’t make an approach, could they afford his wage? Probably not.
Billy Davies is a man who impresses with Championship sides on a budget and has been unemployed for a while now. But would he have taken on the role with Utd on their budget? I doubt it.
Coach Eric Black has vast experience in both Scotland and England’s top flights and has been looking for a job since being sacked at Blackburn earlier this season.
Yet the fact remains that Dundee United didn’t even seem to give these men an interview. The only other realistic target seemed to be Falkirk’s Steven Pressley.
Both Pressley and McNamara have qualities that would attract United. They are cheap! Who won’t command massive wages and who are experienced in working with clubs who are restricted with small budgets.
Don’t get me wrong they also have other qualities. Both are young and enjoy seeing their teams playing good possession football. Also as players they have vast experience and were winners. They also know the Scottish game well and can spot players.
But why would McNamara join United when everything looked rosy for him at Firhill and will the move turn out to be a mistake?
Only time will tell.
He is a quiet man, who won’t go about his job with much fuss (another positive for Thompson).
If it was me I’d be worried about the departure of Peter Houston. You see, for me, Houston was never a great manager. Very much a number two. Yes he won the Scottish Cup but that was very much a Craig Levein team and project. I doubt Houston will get a better managerial job than that at United but things were so tough for him there in terms of budgets that he felt he had no choice but to leave.
Also its not always an automatic success story for young managers to leave smaller jobs for the first bigger offer that comes their way. Craig Brewster had a successful start to his managerial career at Inverness Caley but then only a year or so later he too jumped at the chance to manage Dundee Utd. But he lasted under year at Tannadice before being shown the door after a disappointing spell. It happened to Brendan Rodgers with his move to Reading and look at Andre Vilas Boas tenure at Chelsea after his success at Porto.
Then you look at what Jackie leaves behind at Partick Thistle.
They have impressed all season and are currently second in the First Division. They are only five points behind Morton and have two games in hand. The club are also in the Ramsdens Cup final in April.
Then there is the fact that the club have an exciting young squad. With duo Stephen O’Donnell and Stuart Bannigan included in the recent Scottish under 21 squad.
McNamara could have left his first managerial side with two trophies had he won both the First Division and the Ramsdens cup. At the moment as a boss he has still won nothing and that might not change at Tannadice.
Yes they too have good young players but will Gary Mackay-Steven and Johnny Russell stay beyond the summer? I doubt it. Will McNamara see the cash from those funds? Again I doubt it.
That could be another massive hole to fill in the Dundee Utd squad come the 2013/14 season and that may be harder to fill if the budgets are slashed yet again.
At least with Thistle, McNamara had support from both the fans and the board. That support would have guaranteed McNamara and his assistant Simon Donnelly more job security in the long run.
By joining Dundee Utd now and not in the summer, who can guarantee that after a slump of results this term and then a poor start to next season we won’t see Jackie out of a job come Halloween?
There will be positives for Jackie in this move. He will back his own ability to succeed at Tannadice, they are still in the Scottish Cup and have a decent chance of getting into the ‘Top Six’.
They do have a good SPL squad. Even if budgets are slashed they will still be much bigger than what he has been used to at Partick. He will see this as a good platform to show off his managerial ability. He will have asked himself what if this offer doesn’t materialise again.
So for me, its definitely a gamble for Mr McNamara but a win over Rangers this weekend could make him an instant hero and that should boost squad morale for the rest of the season.
Like any other job swap, there is a lot of ifs, buts and maybes. Only Jackie could make this decision and he will be the one that has to live with it no matter is its a successful move or a failure.
Posted on January 30th, 2013 by scott
Filed under: Article