IAN BLACK insists straight-talking Scotsman Micky Mellon will prove that reputations count for nothing if he takes the reins at Dundee United.
Mellon’s CV may not be comparable with fellow Tannadice interviewees Steve McClaren and Malky Mackay but Black is adamant United will have pulled off a masterstroke if they appoint his old gaffer.
The former Rangers and Scotland midfielder played under Mellon at Shrewsbury Town for 13 months and lapped up his man-management style, insisting he swiftly became a friend as well as a manager.
Indeed, the 48-year-old once stated that he wished he could field ‘a team of Ian Blacks’, such was the rapport the pair enjoyed.
And Black says Mellon will have United stars running through brick walls if, as expected, he takes the reins in Tayside.
Black said: “Management isn’t about big names or reputations. Success, from top to bottom, comes down to your relationship with the players.
“You can put any manager in there – McClaren, Mackay, whoever – but if the players don’t buy into what they are saying, or don’t like how they are being treated, then it won’t work.
“If you can motivate, inspire and get the best out of your squad, then the results will come – no matter what your CV looks like.
“Micky is incredible to work under and a great motivator. He’ll analyse the squad, see what each player needs – whether it’s an arm around the shoulder or a kick up the a***. He just knows how to get the best out of you.
“Sometimes I would go out on the pitch so fired up and determined, and you realised that he’d been playing mind games to get you up for it.
“My only regret is that he left to go to Tranmere [October 2016] because I would have loved to have continued that relationship.”
Black enjoyed something of an Indian summer with at Montgomery Waters Meadow after his three-year stint with the Gers somewhat petered out, notching four goals in 59 appearances for the Shrews.
High points included a memorable 1-0 FA Cup win away at Cardiff in 2016 which earned a fifth-round trip to Louis van Gaal’s Manchester United.
They lost 3-0 at Old Trafford courtesy of goals from Chris Smalling, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard but Black revealed that Mellon had the minnows believing they could upset the Red Devils.
And he reckons Dundee United will show that same level of fearlessness next term if they give Mellon the top job.
Black continued: “Micky has never shied away from any challenge and doesn’t show any fear.
“We played against the biggest team in the world, Manchester United, at Shrewsbury and, although it was a challenge too far, he still sent us out with belief.
“He instilled that if you go out there with the right attitude then you could get a result against anybody – and he’ll have the same philosophy at Dundee United, whether he’s up against Celtic, Rangers or anyone else.”
Although born in Paisley, Mellon has never coached or played north of the border – with his managerial record showing largely spells at Fleetwood, Shrewsbury and Tranmere.
However, Black believes his knowledge of the Scottish game will bely his lack of experience outside the lower leagues of England.
Black added: “Jack Grimmer and I were the only Scottish players in the squad at Shrewsbury and we used to chat about the state of the game up here, previous managers I had played under and boys who are doing well up here.
“He has kept an eye on the Scottish game so he won’t be coming up here blind – I think some people might be surprised at just how knowledgable he is about the Scottish game. He’ll be ready for this opportunity.”
Black has also backed Mellon to ensure United remain focused on the challenge ahead despite the ongoing civil war in Scottish football, which the Tannadice outfit are embroiled in due to Hearts and Partick challenging their promotion.
The ex-Scotland internationalist added: “He is superb at keeping players focused on what they can control and what they want to achieve. Everything else is just noise.”