If Dundee United’s intention to appoint Tam Courts as their new boss was the worst kept secret in Tayside, then the club’s ambitious pursuit of Charlie Mulgrew was not far behind.
“We’re keen on Charlie and both myself and Thomas [Courts] have met with him,” said sporting director Tony Asghar, following the reports of their interest in the former Celtic and Scotland star.
“We’re quite confident we can bring Charlie to the club.”
It is a mouth-watering prospect for the United faithful as, even at 35 years of age, Mulgrew is far from over the hill.
He ticks a swathe of boxes as a new era dawns at Tannadice and may just be the perfect first signing for Courts. Here’s why.
Before discussing the intangible benefits of securing Mulgrew, the most obvious point to make is that he is still an exceptionally good player and would be among the better centre-halves in the Scottish Premiership should he return north.
Mulgrew’s CV boasts 44 caps for Scotland and spells with the Hoops, Wolves, Blackburn Rovers and, having played 23 times for Fleetwood Town in the physically demanding SkyBet League One, his fitness is of little concern.
As we look towards Euro 2020, it is worth remembering Mulgrew played in Steve Clarke’s first match as Scotland boss; a 2-1 win over Cyprus. That was only two years ago.
Mulgrew boasts seven major honours from his six years with Celtic — five Premiership titles and two Scottish Cups — and was named Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football Writers Association player of the year in 2011/12.
That is a level of success which does not come without lofty standards and an iron-clad will to win, which will be pivotal as United look to improve on their endeavours last term.
Dressing room influence
While it is hoped his main influence will be felt on the grass, Mulgrew is also seen as a leader in the dressing room.
He will be charged will helping to support, drive on and develop his younger teammates, aiding United’s over-arching aim to bring through talented kids into the first-team.
Mulgrew can also command respect and ensure new boss Courts is getting his message across loud and clear.
A senior core
There has perhaps been a misapprehension that United’s plan is to field a team full of gifted teenagers in the unforgiving battleground of the Premiership.
Mulgrew’s signing would assuage those fears and make it crystal clear that, while more potential home-grown heroes will get their chance, there will be an experienced core with a tangible top-level track record.
It may have been a brief spell, but Mulgrew’s loan stint at United from Celtic in 2006, playing 14 times, ensures there will be little need to bed in or adapt to new surroundings.
He knows the club; the fans; the expectations — and will be ready to hit the ground running.