Former Dundee United favourite Scott Crabbe believes the combination of Csaba Laszlo and Laurie Ellis can be the dream team that leads the Tangerines back to the Premiership.
Late on Monday, Laszlo emerged as the surprise favourite to replace Ray McKinnon as manager after it emerged he’d held lengthy talks with the United board over the weekend.
It’s looking increasingly like the Hungarian will be handed the job until the end of the season.
And United have been able to do their homework on the 53-year-old, who’s remained based in Edinburgh since a successful two-year spell as Hearts boss ended in 2010.
General manager David Southern worked with him at Tynecastle and former United and Hearts defender Ryan McGowan, now playing in the UAE, was also sounded out.
It was during Laszlo’s time at the Jambos that Crabbe, also an ex-Hearts man, saw plenty of his team. He believes his know-how could prove invaluable in securing promotion.
“I can’t say I know him. I did meet him a few times at Hearts but we only really said hello and never talked football,” said Crabbe who was at United when they won the 1994 Scottish Cup.
“I saw a lot of his games in charge and what I can tell you is he got a lot out of his players. That’s why Hearts finished third and, when both Celtic and Rangers were strong, that was the best you could expect.
“He got a few results against the Old Firm as well and was very popular with the fans. For a man who was coming in not knowing much about the Scottish game, he took to it very quickly and got the team going.
“Now he has the advantage of a knowledge of the Scotland game and that would give him a great chance of hitting the ground running the same way he did with Hearts.”
And in his former team-mate Ellis — the pair played together at Raith Rovers — Crabbe is convinced Laszlo would have the perfect No 2.
He believes if United do hang on to the 37-year-old, they have a future manager in their backroom team.
“I played with Laurie and he’s a boy I can’t speak highly enough of. When we were at Raith he was the model professional.
“On the park, he was one who made sure everyone around him gave their best. He’s the same as a coach and I’m sure that’s why United got back to winning at Dumbarton. He’s popular in the dressing-room and he’s a leader.
“Laurie’s a very honest boy. I saw him saying he was not applying for the manager’s job because he felt he wasn’t quite ready.
“My feeling is he probably is but Laurie wouldn’t apply just because the job was available. He’ll want what’s best for the club and would even risk a new manager coming in and replacing him, rather than do something that might only be good for him personally but not the team.”
While Laszlo is Edinburgh-based, Crabbe points out he’ll need to get up to speed with life in the Championship. For him, few are better qualified than Ellis when it comes to that.
“Laurie knows the division. He played a lot of games in it and has been watching it from the dugout for Raith and United.
“He’d be a huge help. Incidentally, the same goes for my old mate Dave Bowman and I’d like to see him involved.
“For me, it would be a great partnership and it’ll give United the best chance of getting back where they should be. I don’t see a lot of them anymore but I loved my time at Tannadice and still have a lot of affection for the club.
“It’s horrible to see them out of the Premiership and I want them back for next season.”