Uncertainty reigns supreme down Tannadice way right now – and club chiefs would be wise to quickly shed some light on its ominous, gloomy shadow.
Hanging over Dundee United right now are big questions over the future of key figures – boss Micky Mellon and star players Lawrence Shankland and Benjamin Siegrist.
They are quandaries the Terrors need to find solutions to sooner rather than later if they are to press on next season.
It’s on the high heidyins, owner Mark Ogren and sporting director Tony Asghar, to come out and put the speculation, rumours and worry to bed once and for all.
That they aren’t is telling.
Not so much Shankland and Siegrist, both with a year left to run on their current deals and unlikely to sign new agreements, but with sought-after gaffer Mellon.
The experienced manager has been linked with moves back down south to League One Doncaster and old haunt Tranmere Rovers in recent weeks and months.
Donny’s appointment of Richie Wellens this week lay that one to rest, while it is understood a return to Tranmere, just a year after leaving Prenton Park to head home to Scotland, is unlikely.
However, there is no smoke without fire, as they say.
The United gaffer’s future is a sideshow with staying power, one that just will not go away.
Whether he’ll start next season in the dugout remains to be seen but what is clear is we are set for a seismic summer at Tannadice.
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That is something the Tangerines can’t afford to happen again after the shock exit of Robbie Neilson for Hearts last year.
I suppose, if Mellon is to leave, at least there has been fair warning!
Asghar and Co may already have a list of candidates drawn up in the event he should head for the hills.
In fact, I’m almost certain they do.
However, it’s all quite unsettling, regardless, isn’t it?
After a solid first campaign back in the top flight following their Championship title win, United need stable foundations to build from next season.
Certainty is what’s required – and now.
Personally, I’d like to see Mellon remain in the hotseat. For me, he’s the man to build on a season of near misses.
Missing out on the top six, and then seventh by a point, eventually finishing in ninth and making the Scottish Cup semi-finals at Hampden was a terrific effort given how
little time and resources he had to prepare and build his own squad in pre-season.
With a full summer of work under his belt, you can bet Mellon would do his damnedest to go about topping that.
Ideally, I’m sure, that would involve keeping Shanks and Benji in tangerine next term as unlikely as that seems.
Of course, these are all ifs, buts and maybes. What we need are answers. Will they stay or will they go?
Seeing Dundee fans back at Dens Park on Thursday night was a magnificent sight to behold.
I had almost forgotten what it was like to see supporters inside one of our city club’s
stadiums it had been that long.
The Dark Blues’ 2-0 win over Ayr at the end of last season was the last time
football fans graced our fine city.
I make that around 14 and a half months – or 438 days ago to be precise. That is an
outrageous amount of time.
Although it was just a 500-strong home support, hopefully it signals the start of a return to normality.
And I mean that in more ways than one.
Yes, I yearn to see thousands of Dees and Arabs back on the terraces but, ideally, I want that to be with Dundee derbies in the Premiership.
For me, it’s only natural to have both Dundee and United in the top flight.
The 2019/20 season, in which we had three all-city clashes, was fantastic. All of them were real celebrations of Dundonian football culture – genuinely great occasions.
Unfortunately, however, they took place in the Championship. Not the stage for a fixture of that magnitude.
In winning the league that season, United held up their side of the bargain. I just hope James McPake’s Dundee can find a way past Killie.
I don’t think even Lawrence Shankland himself would have been surprised his name was missing from Steve Clarke’s Euro 2020 squad.
When the Scotland boss announced his 26-man pool for the summer finals I wasn’t shocked either but did feel much sympathy for the Dundee United hitman.
Shankland has been starved of service this season in a United side more at home trying to defend leads than build on them.
With direct rival Kevin Nibset banging goals in for fun in an exciting Hibs team, sadly, he never stood a chance.