Dundee United manager Micky Mellon admits he is “privileged” to be following in Jim McLean’s footsteps after witnessing the outpouring of respect for his predecessor.
United’s greatest manager, who led the club to their only league title as well as a UEFA Cup final and the European Cup semi-finals, died aged 83 at the weekend.
Numerous tributes have been left outside Tannadice from supporters while former players and managers across Scottish football have eulogised McLean’s contribution to the game.
Mellon said: “Growing up, I very clearly remember people like Jim McLean and Sir Alex Ferguson dominating Scottish football.
“Obviously the Dundee United teams in Europe and how competitive Dundee United and Aberdeen were against the Old Firm, I spent my teen years watching all that.
“So to be sitting here as manager after such a sad day knowing that Mr McLean had sadly passed away was quite a surreal moment for me. But one of honour because I understand the work he put in there, the great teams and great players he brought to play for Dundee United, and what a great club worldwide he made it.
“To see the outpouring of respect for him from ex-players and the fans of Dundee United and also the people of Dundee – there’s Celtic scarves, Rangers scarves, Dundee tops, all of that – shows you the measure of the man and what people felt he had given to football.
“It’s a really sad time but what he would definitely want us to do is get back on with the football again.”
Mellon, whose side face Celtic in the Scottish Premiership on Sunday, vowed to embrace the expectations when he took over the newly promoted club in the summer and dismissed suggestions McLean’s legacy put him under extra pressure.
“No pressure, I would 100 per cent say privilege,” the former Tranmere boss said. “I would only say privilege, and I feel the responsibility to be the manager of the club and to wear the jacket well. I really do.
“I know what a great football club it is and I know it requires a manager to work hard and behave properly and be good at organising teams, and drive teams on and improve players. All the qualities that Jim McLean brought to Dundee United: hard work, promoting youth. His legacy is still very clearly here.
“You only have to walk through the club and you can still feel it all around you, which is terrific. And so it should be.
“I embrace it, it doesn’t frighten me in the slightest. I am just privileged that I am the manager here at the minute, and I will fight hard to continue to try to move the club forward.”
McLean also led United to two League Cup triumphs plus two more final appearances and six Scottish Cup finals.
“It’s the standard,” Mellon said. “It would be silly of me to sit here and say that I know Dundee United will ever get back to those levels again. I don’t know and nor do any of you guys.
“So in my mind I will work hard to close the gap on those times. Will we ever get there? I don’t know but I will work hard to close the gap and make it the best I can, and who knows? But certainly an unbelievable standard has been set.
“Yeah, we do get compared and everybody will keep bringing up the great teams and great players.
“I’ve no problem with that, I am just glad I am managing the team that those guys played for and managing the club that had those great evenings and brilliant history.
“I am honoured to be the manager and working hard to keep improving things and making players aware of the effort and greatness that’s been in the jerseys that were worn before them.”
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