Samba soccer won’t be setting its bare feet on St Andrews Beach anytime soon but academy director Andy Goldie believes Dundee United can, nonetheless, benefit from their link-up with Brazilian giants Fluminense.
The Rio de Janeiro club’s U/20 boss, Eduardo Oliveira, presented the latest staff education programme to United’s youth coaches via Zoom on Thursday.
In his 90-minute seminar, the 38-year-old lifted the lid on Fluminense’s philosophy, outlined their football DNA and shared stories of the progression of stars like Chelsea’s Thiago Silva and Real Madrid’s Marcelo from the club’s youth set-up.
It was just the latest in a long line of chats Goldie has organised for his staff in recent times, with Benfica and Roma among many others sharing knowledge with the Tangerines.
And it’s not a one-way street, with Goldie revealing they have returned the favour to their illustrious counterparts, insisting Scotland’s football culture has a lot to offer despite the bad weather.
Asked if they’re are going to start a beach soccer programme at their St Andrews University training ground, Goldie laughed and said: “There’s a part of that and a lot of research shows those varied experiences can not only help develop the player, but the coaches as well.
“The biggest credit I can give our staff and the quality of them is all the clubs we’ve spoken to want us to tell them what we’re doing.
“Eduardo has invited us to present to them. We’ll either send Tam Courts or Andy Payne to do that in the coming weeks.
“We’ve been doing that already – Tam and Adam (Asghar) have already linked in with Benfica and Roma on the back of our staff education programme.
“They’re starting to grow their network and it can only benefit the club. It’s fantastic.”
Goldie continued: “There’s still negative connotations surrounding Scottish coaching and Eduardo touched on that when he mentioned British football is about crossing into the box.
“That’s part of the game but there’s still that stereotype that we’re behind the times.
“Don’t get me wrong, there’s still an unbelievable amount of work that has to go into Scottish football to get to those levels.
“But if you never aspire to get to that level of producing Champions League players, international players, then, ultimately, you’re going to continue to get the same results you always have.”
Tangerines set ambitious aim to create Champions League-level players
Widening the net beyond our borders is a key belief of Goldie’s, who checked in at Tannadice two years ago after a spell with the SFA’s Performance Schools programme, and the club’s vision of developing top-level players.
Goldie, who has worked with the likes of Chelsea’s Billy Gilmour, insists the Terrors can produce Champions League-quality stars and, in turn, help the first team.
The 35-year-old added: “I made it clear as soon as I came in that I didn’t feel there was anyone in Scotland we could compare ourselves to and put a ceiling on things.
“We didn’t want to just benchmark ourselves against other Scottish clubs and limit ourselves in that way. We could only go so far in what we could achieve.
“Being the best in Scotland isn’t, ultimately, going to help us achieve our vision of creating Champions League-level players.
“We’re benchmarking ourselves against clubs such as Fluminense – who are constantly producing top-level European players, Hajduk Split and we’re trying to get Partizan Belgrade on board, too.
“We’ve had AS Roma, SL Benfica and Nordsjælland – these are clubs producing Champions League players, so who better to learn from?
“I’m not excited about producing players and developing them into a journey where they go to League One or League Two or the juniors.
“Of course, every player has their own path and we want to help them get to the highest level they can.
“That’s all great, but (United sporting director) Tony (Asghar) didn’t bring me into this club to produce players at that level.
“He brought me here to bring success back to our first team and our club as a whole.
“To do that we need to develop young players, as we have been doing, and get them into a first-team environment at 16, 17 or 18 and expose them to the challenges of men’s football.
“Then, depending on what their potential is, do we sell them on or do they stay within the club to help us bring success back, win trophies, reach higher league positions and qualify for Europe?”
ARAB identity crucial to Goldie’s youth revolution
Youth chief Goldie doesn’t believe he’s far away from developing a successful framework similar to that of Fluminense’s and hopes to use the club’s glory days of the 1980s to rediscover their identity.
What Goldie has landed on to achieve that, he calls ARAB – aggressive, relentless, awareness and bravery.
“Eduardo touched on how similar we are,” he said.
“Their way is exactly how we’ve created our methodology, curriculum and way of working at United.
“We look at the DNA and history of the club – and that is rich in developing our own players.
“We need to look at the 1980s – the most successful time in Dundee United’s history – and what the identity of the team was but put a modern twist on it.
“That’s so our young players nowadays can resonate with that and buy into it.
“That’s the tool that then helps create the individual player at the level we want them to get to.
“We’re doing our own version of it but we’re not going to settle with being good or very good, we want to be excellent.
“It’s not a case of replicating or copying; it’s learning from them and making it our own in-house.
“What does a top level Dundee United player look like? Paul Hegarty, Maurice Malpas or a Ryan Gauld.
“Even the ones that haven’t come through the academy like Andy Robertson.
“These players are who it’s modelled around. That’s, typically, who our fans and European counterparts relate to in terms of being a Dundee United player.
“Aggressive, relentless, awareness and bravery. That’s our identity and our foundation for what we’re looking to create with both individual and collective performance.”
‘A manager for the club in the future should come from the academy’
Not only does Goldie want to bring on talented young footballers, he has high hopes for his coaches, too.
Perhaps, even seeing one of them in the manager’s office at Tannadice in the not-so-distant future.
He commented: “Adam and Tam have had experience in with the first team now and it’s part of our performance strategy to not only produce players for the first team, but coaches and future managers, too.
“They’ll both be involved with a first team in the not too distant future.
“Tony has set me the adjective that a manager for the club in the future should come from the academy.
“It’s up to me to make sure we’re putting the appropriate support in place to develop our staff.”