Mike Martin believes a return to the “Dundee United way” will provide the best chance of restoring former glories at Tannadice.
The new Tangerines chairman is determined to lead the club back to the top flight — hopefully at the end of the season.
That’s his immediate aim and, when he looks to the longer-term future, Martin believes he knows the best way of restoring United as a permanent fixture in the Premiership.
On the park, he feels the troubles of the past few seasons are down, in part, to a loss of identity and direction, and he wants to get back to doing the things that made them one of the top sides in the country during the 1980s.
“There is an argument that says successive managers have kind of had the opportunity to amend the structure to suit their individual circumstances,” said the man who took over the chairmanship last week.
“What we need to do is get back to a Dundee United structure that, when a manager comes in, they work within rather than make wholesale change.
“We need to have the Dundee United way of doing things. There are a number of tangible examples of what that might entail.
“The first and most obvious one is on recruitment and I think our record on recruitment over the last two to three years has fallen well short of what we expect at a club like this and what we want to have in place.
“An overhaul of our approach to recruitment and scouting is very high up on the agenda and we want to see the right calibre of individuals coming to the club from different sources.
“That leads neatly on to the second area which is youth development, because this club has really built its reputation on the back of a very strong youth development programme over an extended period.
“We have lots of great examples of individuals coming through the Dundee United ranks.
“That process hasn’t stopped but it’s slowed significantly and we need to understand why that’s happened and how we get back to growing our own talent.”
Martin believes current boss Csaba Laszlo is the ideal man to oversee that process and is of the opinion that, under the man who was appointed in November, the team can flourish.
“Csaba is on board 100% and, in fact, one of the things that appealed about Csaba when we went through the recruitment process was his vision for a top-tier football club and his ideas about how to implement it.”
Another challenge is improving the club’s financial position. Right now, United’s debt is £2.4 million and, while it’s been significantly higher in the past, so long as they remain in the Championship it will only increase.
“We are very keen to get back into the Premiership,” said Martin.
“We, therefore, have two plans. We have one plan that is based on us being back in the Premiership and has us managing the business based on revenue streams that are available to us from a Premiership position.
“We’ve a second plan that is based on us being in the Championship for another year. The latter is very penal from a financial perspective.
“It is impossible for Dundee United to break even in a Championship environment. We have an infrastructure here that is a Premiership infrastructure. We trimmed our wage bill which is a large part of our cost base.
“We can trim it again but there’s a balance to be struck between trimming it for cost-saving reasons and giving the manager a sufficient budget to give us a fighting chance of going back up.”