ONE of the biggest myths in football is that clubs who are quick to fire managers suddenly become unappealing in the eyes of coaches who are out of work.

‘Aye ok, they could fire the manager, but who are they going to get?’ is a poser you will often hear when a team is struggling. Gie’s peace.

As history has shown, no matter if a club’s manager’s office is fitted with a revolving door, there will be all manner of out of work coaches who would gladly clamber through it for the opportunity of gainful employment.

Remember, when a manager loses their job on the back of poor performance, it doesn’t end the same way as it does for Joe Public, but instead with the nice cushion of a contract pay-off to soften the blow.

There are also a great deal more managers out there than there are jobs, particularly at the top level. It’s why you will always hear tales about Sven Goran Eriksson applying for the Motherwell gig or Walter Zenga putting himself forward for the St Mirren post. There are no shortage of managers available; good, bad and plainly bonkers.

It is also why clubs are in such positions of power when it comes to treating managers like disposable commodities, and when coupled with the rise of social media on shaping opinions and amplifying fan voices to the point where they are constantly heard at boardroom level, why a manager’s peg is rarely anything other than shoogly these days.

It is what led the Dundee United hierarchy to swing the axe on Jack Ross this week, just 10 weeks into his reign as manager at Tannadice, knowing full well there will be plenty of candidates desperate to fill his shoes.

Well, that, and the 9-0 defeat to Celtic that rounded off a brutal run of results that saw United concede 23 goals in four matches with just one going the other way, in fairness.

It was a run that was barely conceivable amid the euphoria of the first leg victory over AZ Alkmaar less than a month ago, a night that harked back to the glory years of the club and seemed to hint at a golden future under the new manager and the United ownership.

It is often said that a week is a long time in football, but this past month has been an aeon for the Arabs.

There were no questions being asked of Ross that night, and now he has gone. It would be unfair though to say that no questions were being asked of the United ownership and the current direction the club is taking, even if any concerns from fans may have been temporarily banished amid the euphoria of that night of fleeting glory.

But while hiring and firing gaffers is hardly a unique feature of a football club these days, the banishment of Ross after such a short tenure does rather beg a few questions about the long-term plan for Dundee United.

Dig a little deeper than the last four weeks, and there are some further red flags that fans of other Scottish clubs may well recognise, not least those from across the street at Dens Park.

For instance, while there is a lot to commend about chairman Mark Ogren’s stewardship of the club, one does wonder how United will ever go about repaying his £9m in interest-free loans that were present in their 2021 accounts.

That is a figure heading only one way, with United’s wage bill in those same accounts running at 132 percent to their annual turnover. The plan may well be to claw that back by regular qualification for European football, but as this year has shown, the gap to even the Europa League group stages is a cavernous one to bridge.

There is also the possibility of selling players, but the recent swing towards experienced pros on high wages – Dylan Levitt excepted – makes it seem the club have veered a little from that path.

Ogren has been at the Tannadice helm for four years, and he has taken the club from a moribund state back to more or less where they should be within Scottish football. But the money that has been spent getting them to a position that could reasonably be described as ‘even par’ given the relative size of the club is eyebrow-raising to say the least.

Fans of Dundee, Hearts, Livingston and Motherwell who are reading this column may well have had their ears pricked by now too, recognising a movie they have all seen before.

Wealthy benefactor? Check. Money being ploughed in? Check. Wages wildly exceeding turnover? Check. Careening through managers? Check. Success? That cheque is still in the post.

There are concerns from the United support over the role of sporting director Tony Ashgar amid all of this too, who has seen his latest hire emptied after just seven games in charge. Micky Mellon and Tam Courts lasted a little longer, but only a season each.

The squad he has helped assemble looks strong on paper (save for a penchant for hiring keepers with wet paper towels in place of wrists), but the cost of blowing rivals out of the water for players has been a considerable one, and has yet to provide a justifiable return on that investment.

What should chiefly be occupying the minds of the United faithful though is what happens if the wealthy benefactor - like so many before him - decides he has haemorrhaged quite enough money trying to turn a club into Scotland’s ‘third force?’

Ogren seems genuinely invested emotionally as well as financially in the club, and his statement following the sacking of Ross sought to ensure fans that he remains committed to United, and was an affirmation of his faith in Ashgar to get things back on track.

Only he can answer the question of how much longer he is prepared to sign those cheques to keep this whole thing rumbling along, though. We all know, worryingly, what the alternative is.