Dundee United coach Thomas Courts insists he is not fazed by his dramatic “promotion” at the coronavirus-stricken club.
Courts, the academy head of tactical performance at Tannadice, has been placed in emergency charge of training and preparations for Saturday’s match against Livingston following the news that the entire first-team coaching staff, including manger Micky Mellon, have gone into self-isolation.
That dramatic move came after the revelation that three of United’s backroom team had tested positive for the virus.
If Courts – a former Kelty Hearts boss – is feeling daunted by the possibility of taking the team against first Livingston away on Saturday then Rangers at home the following weekend, then he is doing a good job of hiding it.
Staying in contact with Micky Mellon
He said: “The modern coaching environment is so fluid just now, with all the protocols, governance and guidelines, that you need to be agile and flexible in dealing with any situation that develops.
“At this moment in time the gaffer would probably want me to be focused on a daily basis.
“We are speaking every six hours and I have already spoken to him twice today.
“I will take training tomorrow (Friday) and if Saturday is required we will just take that in our stride.
“I feel like I have a good understanding of how I need to represent the gaffer.
“I have the details that the players need to see and hear out on the training pitch.
“He (Mellon) has been updated at regular intervals and seems quite content just now.
“Obviously, we are in unprecedented times – that’s almost become a bit of cliché,” added Courts.
“I think there has not been time for me to think of any personal objectives. It is really just up to me to make sure the gaffer is supported and the players are clear what is expected of them.
“I don’t feel fazed at all.
“I’m just excited to have the opportunity to play a bigger role for the club.”
In a statement issued just before Courts fulfilled United’s media duties, the club confirmed the coronavirus complications.
They said: “Following recent positive COVID-19 tests for non-playing staff and ahead of further discussions with the Scottish FA and Tayside Health Board, we have taken the precautionary decision to ask all our first-team coaching staff to self-isolate.
“Academy head of tactical performance coach Thomas Courts and other academy staff will guide Thursday and Friday’s training sessions.
“Pending further discussions with the Scottish FA and Tayside Health Board, we will make no further comment at this time.”
Wealth of Dundee United experience for Thomas Courts to call on
Courts – who appeared for Livi, East Fife and Cowdenbeath during his playing days – revealed that he will rely heavily on the advice and guidance of the senior players, led by captain Mark Reynolds.
Courts added: “Every team looks to their senior players for that leadership and, from the first session I took to the conversations we have had with the players, I have felt really well supported by the senior pros.
“It has felt like a seamless transition because we have a first-class group of boys.”
In a stroke of luck for United, Courts revealed he had been tasked by Mellon with watching opponents Livi in action over recent weeks.
Courts said: “I am actually in a fortunate position there because I do some opposition work for the first team so I have actually seen Livingston personally four times, including when we played them at Tannadice.
“I feel well informed.
Checking out the opposition
“The analysis staff also produce on a weekend the full report on the next week’s opponents. In terms of that, there has been a great deal of consistency.
“The players should be happy where we are just now, albeit there have obviously been things happening in the background due to unforeseen circumstances.”
United, of course, lost to the West Lothian club in that October fixture because of a last-gasp goal but Courts feels they have already shown they have recovered from that setback.
He said: “I think you only have to look at our league position to see that this is a group of players who very quickly move on from setbacks and defeats. We haven’t had many defeats this season.
Following recent positive COVID-19 tests for non-playing staff and ahead of further discussions with the Scottish FA and Tayside Health Board, we have taken the precautionary decision to ask all our first-team coaching staff to self-isolate.
— Dundee United FC (@dundeeunitedfc) December 3, 2020
“What has become apparent from the results that followed is that they boys move on quickly.
“The Premiership is a challenging league and this is our first year back. The points total that we have amassed so far is a credit to the players and staff.
“Listening to the gaffer’s post-match summaries every week, he is always focusing on making improvements so we will be looking to continue that.”