Micky Mellon is back in Scotland, and he’s very happy about it. He tells the Totally Scottish Football Show about his plans for Dundee United…
“I’m really enjoying it. It’s nice to be to be home. The football club’s make me feel really, really welcome. We have outstanding training facilities here and great people in the club. I’m really enjoying working with the players. I’m in a really good place and really look forward to getting started.”
The Scottish Premiership is back, and so is Micky Mellon. Some 31 years after he joined Bristol City as a 16-year-old, going on to have a long career, mostly in the English Football League, Mellon has returned to Scotland to manage Dundee United.
Mellon took over from Robbie Neilson this summer, who left for Hearts after winning promotion back to the Premiership, and doesn’t he sound happy about it?
He takes over a pretty optimistic club too, promoted as undisputed Championship winners (despite the curious circumstances surrounding the season’s curtailment) after four near-misses.
“To get the place into the same situation as I’ve done with all my clubs,” Mellon tells the Totally Scottish Football Show, when asked what his aims for the season ahead are.
“I’ve had a brilliant relationship with the fans, the owners and the players. So that’s what I always work hard to do, and then win games of football. As simple as that. And then improve the group and help to try and improve the players so that they can get to levels that I believe that they can they can achieve. And I’ll work very hard to try and do that.
“Nothing more complicated than that. And then we’ll have a league table at some stage that will measure what the team’s performance has been. And in the meantime and I’ll work hard to keep trying to improve that and watch all the different parts of that in order to try and improve them as individuals and a group. And really, honestly, that’s how I keep it dead simple.”
In terms of establishing a definitive playing style – or dare we say it, a philosophy – that he thinks will be successful, Mellon’s plan is to work the other way around.
“I want to win. So everything will be worked back from winning. We have to win games of football, we’ll all be judged on getting results. Within the performance, you try and find a way of playing that’s gains you victories, so whether that’s clean sheets, getting the most out of different players at the top end of the pitch to score goals and get them service – it will all be to win. It’s always been the same way with me. That’s the object of the game. And I work very hard to know the different parts of the group in order to try and do that.”
However recruitment, in this most strange of summers, has been problematic.
“The difficulties you find is that the only teams are operating in Scotland are the Premier League teams. So anyone outside that has probably been inactive for, what, three and a half months? So there maybe players who have been training on their own, but they’re not up to the level of fitness that my boys are here, and that’s the same in England outside the Championship and the Premier League, the boys have been inactive.
“[Alternatively you could] recruit from your youth team and make them better, but they haven’t been active either. So a lot of the areas you would look to recruit from, the players have all been inactive, so it’s the fitness levels really that you’ve got to think about. So the likes of Luke Bolton [who United have signed on loan from Manchester City], he’s been training because the Premier League’s active.
“And then you have the COVID testing situation, so if you bring in trialists, they’re not tested, and you can’t bring them into to the group. So they are the challenges, but it’s the same for everybody. So we’re just trying to find the best way of getting round that, and do the best we can at making sure that we put a group together that can represent the club properly.”
Mostly though, Mellon just sounds happy to be home.
“One of the pleasing things that I’ve found is the attitude of the Scottish player to being a footballer. You don’t really have to remind them about the privilege of being a footballer. They work hard as a given. So every training session – and I can only speak from Dundee United – the training sessions every day are full tilt, really at it, great attitude. It’s been really good. I’ve really enjoyed it. They’re really pleased to be footballers. It brings a smile to my face.”
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