Nice guy Robbie Neilson has a dark side, says new Dundee United assistant McCulloch

Dundee United manager Robbie Neilson.
Dundee United manager Robbie Neilson.

Robbie Neilson is seen as one of the nice guys in Scottish football but newly-appointed Dundee United assistant boss Lee McCulloch knows there’s a darker side to his gaffer.

It’s one of the reasons he turned down coaching offers from other clubs this summer to stay with the Tangerines, stepping up from striker coach to his current role alongside Gordon Forrest.

And also partly why he likens the Tannadice boss to his former manager at Rangers, the legendary Walter Smith.

“The manager is very fair, he’s great at man management. He’s really fair with the boys but you don’t want to get on the wrong side of him because he has a ruthless streak in him you absolutely need.

“I think that’s a massive compliment to him. He is as approachable as Walter was but they still have that ruthless streak that means you don’t want to get on the wrong side of him.

He rates Smith, whose coaching career was launched at United as assistant to Jim McLean, as the manger he learned most from and makes no apologies for the comparison between him and his current boss.

“There’s bits of Walter Smith in him. I see it in the training ground, I see it in the dressing-room, I see it in the office every morning the way he prepares training and the thought that goes into it.

“I’m not putting them in the same league whatsoever but there are similarities there and I’ve been talking to him about it. I think that’s probably the biggest compliment I can give the manager.”

United head for friendlies at Brechin on Friday evening and Dumbarton on Saturday afternoon with only Peter Pawlett set to miss out.

The rest of the squad have been in full training at their base over at St Andrews University.