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Dundee United Football Club is a professional football club based in Dundee, Scotland. Since being formed in 1909 as Dundee Hibernian, the club has employed a manager to run the team, the first being Pat Reilly. The club's longest serving and most successful manager is Jim McLean, who held the position from 1971 to 1993 and won three major honours – the Scottish Football League Premier Division title in 1982-83 and consecutive Scottish League Cup wins in 1979 and 1980. Two Dundee United managers have won the Scottish Cup – Ivan Golac in 1994 and Peter Houston in 2010.
See also: History of Dundee United F.C.
Dundee Hibernian's first manager, Pat Reilly, had no previous background in professional football, but was one of a group of local businessmen who had set up the club. Initially the role was "secretary-manager", with the emphasis as much on the administrative business of the club as on running the football team. Reilly had a flair for publicity, and under him the club successfully applied for membership of the Scottish Football League in 1910. Apart from a two-year spell during the First World War when he was replaced by the club's first player-manager, Herbert Dainty, Reilly remained in the role until 1922, shortly before the club was reorganised as Dundee United.
Former Scotland goalkeeper Jimmy Brownlie was the club's most successful manager in the interwar period. He had three spells in charge, the last as co-manager with Sam Irving. Under Brownlie, United won the Division Two title in the 1924-25 season, their first national honour, and entered the top flight of Scottish football for the first time. Although relegated in 1927, they won the Second Division again in 1928-29 and were promoted for a third time in 1930-31, shortly before the end of Brownlie's first spell as manager.
Prior to the appointment of former player Jerry Kerr as manager in 1959, Dundee United had spent only four seasons in Division One, and had been absent from it since 1932. After winning promotion in Kerr's first season in charge, the club became established in the top flight of Scottish football, and between 1960 and 2016 spent only one season below it. Under Kerr, United reached their first major national semi-final in 1963 and qualified for European competition for the first time in 1966, recording a notable victory over Fairs Cup holders Barcelona. Kerr retired as manager in 1971, to be replaced by Jim McLean.
Building on Kerr's achievements, McLean instituted a successful youth policy that set the foundations for future success. The club won their first major honour, the Scottish League Cup, in 1979 and retained the trophy in 1980. The club became champions of Scotland for the first time when they won the Scottish Football League Premier Division title in 1982-83. During the 1980s, McLean's United teams regularly made significant progress in European competitions, reaching the European Cup semi-finals in 1984 and the UEFA Cup final in 1987. Under McLean, however, Dundee United developed a reputation for failing in major finals at Hampden Park; he never won the Scottish Cup, losing six finals, whilst there were also two League Cup final defeats.
McLean spent 21 years as manager of Dundee United until his retirement in 1993, becoming the club's longest serving manager. At that point, the club had had only two managers in a 34-year period, but since then have had a much higher turnover. Tam Courts, appointed in 2021, is the club's eighteenth manager or head coach in the 28 years since McLean. Up until 2000, McLean himself had chosen his successors, having become club chairman in 1988 and initially combining this role with that of manager, a unique situation in Scottish football. His immediate successor, Ivan Golac, won the previously elusive Scottish Cup in 1994, but he left the club the following year shortly before United were relegated after 35 years in the top flight. Promotion back to the Premier Division was won under Billy Kirkwood, who was followed as manager by Tommy McLean, the chairman's brother. Dundee United won the Scottish Cup for a second time in 2010, under Peter Houston. Other managers to have taken the club to major cup finals are Tommy McLean, Gordon Chisholm, Craig Levein and Jackie McNamara.
Following another relegation from the top flight in 2016, Ray McKinnon led the team to win the Challenge Cup for lower division clubs in 2017. Promotion back to the Premiership was achieved under Robbie Neilson in 2019-20, with United declared champions in a season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Managerial dates are sourced from Rundo & Watson (2009) and Soccerbase. Statistics are taken from the Arab Archive website and include all national and international competitions. Matches in unofficial wartime competitions played during the Second World War are included, but otherwise minor and local competitions (such as the Forfarshire Cup) are not; nor are matches that were abandoned or declared void, for example matches in the abandoned 1939-40 Scottish League season. Statistics are correct as of the match played on 20 July 2021.
|Pat Reilly||Scotland||Jun 1909||Apr 1915||148||49||34||65||217||258||33.1|
|Bert Dainty[a]||England||Apr 1915||Dec 1917||No matches in major competitions|
|Pat Reilly||Scotland||Dec 1917||Dec 1922||45||11||10||24||53||78||24.4|
|Peter O'Rourke||Scotland||Dec 1922||Mar 1923||2||1||0||1||3||2||50.0|
|Willie McAndrew[b][a]||Scotland||Mar 1923||May 1923||No matches in major competitions|
|Jimmy Brownlie[c]||Scotland||Jun 1923||Apr 1931||328||129||74||125||596||597||39.3||Division Two 1925, 1929|
|Willie Reid||Scotland||Jun 1931||Mar 1934||109||32||17||60||193||278||29.4|
|Jimmy Brownlie||Scotland||Mar 1934||Oct 1936||92||40||17||35||260||206||43.5|
|George Greig||Scotland||Oct 1936||Apr 1938||61||17||12||32||86||137||27.9|
|Jul 1938||Jun 1939||36||16||3||17||81||74||44.4|
|Bobby McKay||Scotland||Jun 1939||Oct 1939||2||2||0||0||2||0||100.0|
|Jimmy Allan[e]||Scotland||Nov 1939||Oct 1942||84||34||14||36||199||201||40.5|
|Jimmy Littlejohn||Scotland||Oct 1942||Nov 1944||72||27||5||40||144||197||37.5|
|Charlie McGillivray||Scotland||Nov 1944||Oct 1945||34||10||3||21||55||111||29.4|
|Willie MacFadyen||Scotland||Oct 1945||Aug 1954||340||127||55||158||705||760||37.4|
|Reg Smith||England||Sep 1954||Jan 1957||110||38||27||45||235||229||34.5|
|Ally Gallacher||Scotland||Jan 1957||Mar 1957||8||3||1||4||11||26||37.5|
|Tommy Gray||Scotland||Mar 1957||Oct 1958||70||25||13||32||150||170||35.7|
|Andy McCall||Scotland||Oct 1958||Apr 1959||30||6||8||16||43||64||20.0|
|Jerry Kerr||Scotland||Jun 1959||Dec 1971||568||247||124||197||1060||950||43.5|
|Jim McLean||Scotland||Dec 1971||May 1993||1112||535||270||307||1779||1160||48.1||Premier Division 1983|
League Cup 1979, 1980
|Ivan Golac||Yugoslavia||Aug 1993||Mar 1995||94||31||34||29||114||113||33.0||Scottish Cup 1994|
|Gordon Wallace[b]||Scotland||Mar 1995||30 Mar 1995||2||0||1||1||2||3||0.0|
|Billy Kirkwood||Scotland||30 Mar 1995||1 Sep 1996||61||29||14||18||106||63||47.5|
|Tommy McLean||Scotland||10 Sep 1996||5 Sep 1998||93||36||27||30||134||107||38.7|
|Paul Sturrock||Scotland||5 Sep 1998||7 Aug 2000||85||27||19||39||97||119||31.8|
|Alex Smith||Scotland||8 Aug 2000||7 Oct 2002||99||31||23||45||109||149||31.3|
|Paul Hegarty||Scotland||7 Oct 2002||30 Jan 2003||18||4||5||9||20||34||22.2|
|Ian McCall||Scotland||30 Jan 2003||14 Mar 2005||91||28||23||40||116||149||30.8|
|Gordon Chisholm||Scotland||14 Mar 2005||10 Jan 2006||36||10||10||16||40||54||27.8|
|Billy Dodds[b]||Scotland||10 Jan 2006||16 Jan 2006||1||1||0||0||2||1||100.0|
|Craig Brewster||Scotland||16 Jan 2006||29 Oct 2006||30||3||11||16||28||59||10.0|
|Craig Levein||Scotland||30 Oct 2006||23 Dec 2009||136||55||40||41||185||160||40.4|
|Peter Houston||Scotland||26 Dec 2009||28 Jan 2013||150||63||44||43||232||205||42.0||Scottish Cup 2010|
|Jackie McNamara||Scotland||30 Jan 2013||28 Sep 2015||119||51||24||44||192||173||42.9|
|Dave Bowman[b]||Scotland||28 Sep 2015||14 Oct 2015||1||0||0||1||0||3||0.0|
|Mixu Paatelainen[f]||Finland||14 Oct 2015||4 May 2016||30||8||5||17||31||48||26.7|
|Gordon Young[b]||Scotland||5 May 2016||15 May 2016||3||2||1||0||10||7||66.7|
|Ray McKinnon||Scotland||16 May 2016||24 Oct 2017||73||38||16||19||112||80||52.1||Challenge Cup 2017|
|Laurie Ellis[b]||Scotland||24 Oct 2017||8 Nov 2017||2||2||0||0||4||1||100.0|
|Csaba László||Hungary||8 Nov 2017||30 Sep 2018||45||18||13||14||70||59||40.0|
|Laurie Ellis[b]||Scotland||30 Sep 2018||8 Oct 2018||1||0||0||1||0||2||0.0|
|Robbie Neilson[f]||Scotland||8 Oct 2018||21 June 2020||70||40||16||14||111||62||57.1||Championship 2020[g]|
|Micky Mellon||Scotland||6 July 2020||25 May 2021||46||15||15||16||45||58||32.6|
|Tam Courts[f]||Scotland||7 June 2021||4||4||0||0||9||1||100.0|
- Caretaker manager
- Player-manager until 1924
- Joint managers
- The club did not operate during the 1940-41 season; Allan was actually in charge until July 1940 and again from June 1941
- Head coach
- Second Tier
- Rundo & Watson, p.269
- Rundo & Watson, p.11
- Rundo & Watson, p.265
- Rundo & Watson, p.267
- Rundo & Watson, p.268
- Rundo & Watson, p.266
- "Dundee Utd 3 - 0 Ross County". BBC Sport. 15 May 2010. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
- "Dundee United Managers". Soccerbase. Centurycomm. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
- "Club Managers". Arab Archive. Retrieved 4 June 2015.
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