The first full week of the closed season has seen United secure three new signings and tie down the goalkeeping slots, with more work ongoing to further bolster the squad as planning for next season gathers pace.
Boss Steven Pressley admitted this week that he was pleased with the business done so far, particularly with all of the deals completed being with high priority targets who had been scouted and identified over a number of months.
“I’m pleased with the work we’ve done in the early stages of the summer break and with the fact that we’ve got good targets over the line, but there’s still so much more for us to do,” he said. “We’re making good strides and we’ve been aggressive on our key targets.
“One thing I learned in my early years as a manager was that it’s really important to get your first set of targets signed up as soon as you can. We can’t compete with the scouting networks of clubs at higher levels, where they’ve had a number of targets who have been watched over a period of time. We just don’t have the resources to do that.
“That’s why it becomes even more important to get deals finalised with those players who you’ve done the correct due diligence on. What we’ve also taken into account is that there’s no point scouting a player week in and week out if there’s absolutely no chance of getting him here in the first place.”
“That’s why we’ve identified very good players, done the correct level of homework and then made our moves,” he explained. “Thankfully it’s proved to be a successful policy so far.
“A massive help is that we’ve had people like Gav Skelton [the club’s professional development phase coach] who have really supported us in the process of the recruitment work we’ve been doing.
“He’s spent a lot of hours outside of his academy hours going to watch players for us. He’s compiled a dossier and reports on players and I’m really grateful to people like him for helping us on this road to bringing in the right type of person.”
Speaking more about what he’s been able to tell the new arrivals about what next season will be about, he said: “I’ve said to every player I’ve spoken to so far that there will be no point in them signing a contract if they aren’t going to buy into the way I want my squad and this club to go.
“The way we’re going to work and train has been explained and I’ve told them what the expectations are of every professional footballer who comes to this club.
“We’ve talked about fitness, body composition, application, attitude and how I want them to approach every aspect of the job. Every detail of what we’re going to do has been made clear and, like I say, once they’ve had chance to take it on board I’ve told them not to bother signing the contract unless they’re going to give us their all.”
Looking ahead to the work still to be done, he told us: “We aren’t in a position where another signing is imminent just now, but I met another player yesterday, and another one a few days earlier, and they were both really positive sets of discussions.
“That’s encouraging because, again, it shows that by being aggressive we’re getting to go face-to-face with players we really want to talk to.
“I’ve also got meetings with a couple of managers from Championship clubs lined up so we can talk about possible loan agreements. All I can say is that we’re trying our best to get the people we need into the club so that we can really push on next season.”