Victory, a clean sheet and his main striker getting on the scoresheet – I’ve no doubt Tam Courts is happy with his managerial bow.
The Courts era got under way at Dundee United on Friday night with a hard-fought win at Kelty Hearts.
He’ll have felt a little pressure, any manager does in a new job.
However, the reaction to his appointment over the summer will have ramped that up a notch.
But he’s over his first hurdle and there is plenty to be happy about.
It wasn’t perfect by any means.
I don’t think many expected it would be, though.
A new head coach and a new way of playing doesn’t just click instantly.
There would be no overnight fix for the Tangerines.
But, as I say, there are plenty of positives – three points, a clean sheet and Lawrence Shankland off the mark.
🏆 Cup football: back ✔️
👥 Fans: back ✔️
— Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) July 12, 2021
They may be a League Two side but Kelty was never going to be an easy match for the Tangerines.
They have more than a couple of players capable of playing at a much higher level and I fully expect the Fife side to be favourites for that league.
For Courts, he’ll still be finding out the strengths and weaknesses of the players at his disposal.
Yes, he’s been at the club a while but it’s a completely different ballgame being in charge of the whole set-up.
Shankland on target
I was delighted to see Shankland get off the mark nice and quick too.
He didn’t get the amount of goals we all expected last season.
He does, though, seem to enjoy the early group stage of the League Cup.
I think he knocked in seven for Ayr in his last season there before the league had even started.
If getting into the scoring habit in these games can follow on into Premiership goals then happy days for him and the club.
I think last season lots of different things affected him, the way the team was playing, confidence was maybe low in front of goal as a consequence and a bit more scrutiny in the top flight, too.
He looks in a good place now, though. Talking about a new contract and already among the goals, hopefully that continues.
It’s quite exciting at Tannadice right now if they can get the blend of youth and experience right.
Flynn Duffy made his debut and did well on Friday and there are plenty of other talented young players there waiting for their chance.
Charlie Mulgrew is there for that very reason, to help the young players through.
And Courts’ plans won’t come to fruition overnight, it takes time.
The good thing is they have a win on the board and can put themselves in a strong position with victory over Elgin tomorrow night at Tannadice.
In front of fans, no less.
Do that and it’ll take the pressure off, Courts can then try a couple of things out in the games to come to get United ready for league action.
Patience a good sign for Dundee
Dundee are in a really good place right now.
It’s clear to see with every performance.
Even when an English Premier League side come calling it’s the same kind of performance from James McPake’s men.
West Ham fielded a very strong side and, though they fought back to draw, were in a bit of trouble at Dens Park.
It was only a friendly, however.
The real stuff starts tonight against Brora Rangers.
Rolling over the momentum from the end of last season will be the aim for the Dark Blues.
And it’s difficult to imagine they won’t add another win against the Highland League outfit.
The manager and players will be feeling really good about themselves right now and that only helps on the pitch.
What they need to beware of is complacency – that’s the worst thing that can happen to a player.
You should never stop trying to improve no matter how well you are playing.
It feels like McPake has that in hand, though.
You can see that in the patience he’s shown with bringing in new players.
Not to see if they are good players but to make sure they fit the personalities that are already there.
He’s careful not to upset the good thing they have going and that’s a great sign.
Italy the better side but England won’t be going away soon
Italy were the best side throughout Euro 2020 and I think they showed that in the final on Sunday.
For me, England missed their chance in the first half by not going after the Italians more.
From day one, I liked the way Roberto Mancini had his team playing, the way they attack and press is really enjoyable to watch.
I do feel sorry for the three players who missed penalties, though.
Rashford, Sancho and Saka are all huge talents, though, and will bounce back even better.
To be honest, I now think England have a big chance of lifting the next World Cup.
They look ready.