For a man who enjoyed a career at the top of the game playing for Arsenal, Manchester United and Scotland, it’s something for Ian Ure to say the best manager he ever worked with was at Dundee.
Now 78, Ure joined the Dark Blues in 1958 as an 18-year-old but it wasn’t until Bob Shankly arrived the following year that he began to make an impact in the first team.
Dundee had enjoyed a successful period in the early 50s, winning two League Cups, but that team had waned.
Shankly came in, shook things up, and created the best team ever seen in dark blue.
Within three years they won the league and were in the European Cup semi-final the following year.
Ure said: “Bob Shankly was easily the best manager I ever worked with.
“He just had the knack of getting the best out of players.
“He was a strong character and could swear like a trooper but he could read people.
“He was a real down-to-earth kind of guy and you believed in him when you played for him.
“You had to work and he instilled that in the team. No one was an automatic pick, you had to play for your place.
“Before he came to Dens Park it was like that, too many were.
“When he came in there was a big clearout. He revolutionised the team.
“A lot of the squad were ageing and just going through the motions at the end of their career.
“At that time Dundee weren’t expected to do much, they were a big club but, after the success in the early 50s, there were a few years of doing not very much.
“He also brought in some older guys who we all wondered about.
“He brought in Bobby Wishart, who was 32 at the time, Bobby Seith was 30, but they were revelations.”
Shankly also revolutionised the style of football on display at Dens Park.
“We were an out-and-out attacking team,” Ure added.
“We could defend when we needed to but we used to go at the opposition and test them.
“We had a lot of seasoned players like Bobby Cox and Gordon Smith and some really good ones like Alan Gilzean and Alan Cousin. There was a perfect balance to the team.
“We wanted to play football – there was no humping it up the pitch and chasing after it.
“We were a possession-based team, one of the first in Scotland to keep the ball. It was a European style and that helped us in the European run the next season and why we did so well.
“I think that foxed the European teams because they expected the usual Scottish kick and chase so they’d have the ball for 15 minutes at a time – the difference was we were keeping the ball!”
That run in Europe saw the Dark Blues hammer Sporting Lisbon and then Anderlecht before falling to AC Milan in the last four.
“The Anderlecht game was the best ever. We played at the Heysel Stadium and the whole ground clapped us off at the end, they all rose and clapped.
“We were wondering what was happening. We played the stuff you see all great teams play and passed a good side off the park.
“They were great days.”