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Thursday, 30 January, 2003, 20:15 GMT
McCall's Midas touch
Ian McCall
Ian McCall has been appointed Dundee Utd boss

Ian McCall could be accused of squandering his undoubted talent as a player but he has wasted no time making his mark in football management.

Dundee United have given McCall a crack at the big time after six years of near-miracle working in Scotland's lower divisions.

The Tannadice club are currently bottom of the Premier League, but McCall is no stranger to adversity.

The Dumfries-born 37-year-old has built his managerial reputation on the ability to turn around the fortunes of crisis-hit clubs.

McCall began his career at Queen's Park before Dunfermline came calling and he did enough at East End Park to attract Rangers in 1987.

However, despite a few memorable performances, McCall could not establish himself as a first team regular at Ibrox.

He returned to the Pars after a spell at Bradford, before completing a move to Dundee.

In 1992 McCall made his first move to Falkirk and he enjoyed three happy years at Brockville before leaving for Hamilton, followed by a brief stint at Partick.

McCall showed glimpses of a rare skill at every club he was at but his attitude was often questioned and a propensity for the good life and high jinx saw him at loggerheads with several managers.

Ian McCall at Brockville
McCall was at Falkirk for six months
He took his first steps into management when he accepted the role of player-coach at Clydebank in 1997.

Working on a shoestring budget, with a ramshackle group of seasoned pros and fearless youngsters, McCall won the Second Division title in his first term.

A move to Morton midway through season 1999/00 saw him do enough to guide the financially-stricken club out of the First Division relegation zone.

However, at the end of the campaign, he was told his contract would not be renewed amid ugly dealings that saw him and his assistant Brian Rice go without wages.

The next move was to Airdrie, a First Division club who had already been in provisional liquidation for over a year.

Despite very limited resources, McCall enjoyed great success at New Broomfield, just missing out on SPL promotion to Partick and clinching the Challenge Cup.

At the end of the 2001/02 season he found himself looking for a new job when Airdrie became the first Scottish club to fold since Third Lanark in 1967.

McCall did not have to wait long for Falkirk to make their approach and he made an emotional return to Brockville last summer.

Again, he wasted no time in assembling a team of spirited older players and promising youths.

Falkirk, who were only saved from relegation by the demise of Airdrie, soon found themselves enjoying life at the top end of the First Division.

Three months into the season, Dundee United made their first approach.

Ian McCall
McCall worked wonders at Airdrie
But McCall said at the time: "To have real strength of character, I had to stay. These days there is not enough loyalty but, today, I'm showing some."

However, a few months later, having guided the Bairns to the top of the league - with only two losses from 20 games, McCall has decided to move on and United have their man.

The manager's decision has undoubtedly been influenced by the condition of Falkirk's crumbling old Brockville stadium, which does not meet SPL criteria and would therefore exclude the possibility of winning promotion.

McCall's last contribution at Falkirk was to oversee the 4-0 Scottish Cup demolition of Hearts.

It was a fantastic display from the Bairns and one which perfectly showcased McCall's talent for astute tactics and team-building.

United fans will be hoping McCall can maintain his magic touch and bring the good times back to Tannadice.

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