Levein's mission to restore self-belief

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The Independent Online

Tannadice was once synonymous with managerial longevity. Jim McLean was there for 22 years, a fact he still offers as a reminder to his friend Sir Alex Ferguson. If Craig Levein is still manager of Dundee United in 22 months, it will mean he has turned the club around.

Levein (pictured) became the fifth manager appointed by the chairman, Eddie Thompson, since 2002 when he replaced Craig Brewster last Monday. The former Hearts and Leicester City manager was given a two-and-a-half-year contract and the task of keeping Dundee United in the Scottish Premier League after the side slumped to the bottom of the table following Brewster's alarming tenure, which yielded just two wins in 28 League games.

As Thompson was embracing Levein, he was ostracising McLean. The man who delivered the title to Tannadice in 1983 and then reached the Uefa Cup final in 1987 has had his life privileges from the club revoked because of criticism of Thompson's reign, which has spilled too much blood on the managerial carpet.

Levein's task starts today as Rangers come to Tannadice. United drew 2-2 at Ibrox in August and have a decent record recently against the Glasgow side. Levein's first job is to distribute self-belief. "There is a lack of confidence here so I need to address that," he said. "Confidence comes about through working hard, understanding your role in the team and carrying it out."

Levein acknowledges that the pictures on the Tannadice walls of United's memorable defeats (in 1966 and 1987) of Barcelona can be detrimental. "Expectation comes from what has been achieved in the past and although that waters down over time, this club is maybe hampered by the memories of the glory years."

"It would be good for Scottish football to have a strong Dundee United. It's great to have the likes of Aberdeen, Hearts, Hibernian and Dundee United all doing well, but perhaps the expectation level here has been too high in recent years. It is a fact of football that all the teams outside the Old Firm have good years and then not-so-good years, and that's something we must manage.

"Spending a few days on the training ground will not instantly solve our problems," said Levein. "We're not kidding ourselves on, things like that don't happen overnight."