IT has been a turbulent time for Dundee United with so much optimism and enthusiasm for the domestic season sapped by a dreadful run and Jack Ross' departure after just ten weeks in charge.

A historic first-leg triumph over AZ Alkmaar in the Europa Conference League had rightly raised expectations of a successful season and possible upset to achieve European group stage football.

But within weeks it came crashing down with Ross quickly out the door at Tannadice, a new manager search launched and the club rooted to the bottom of the Scottish Premiership table with European hopes a distant memory.

Liam Fox has steadied the ship in his short time as interim boss and has now been handed the permanent position in the dugout.

Here are five key areas Dundee United must focus on to transform their fortunes...

Improve defensive record

AN obvious area for major improvement is in the Dundee United defensive record.

The club have played ten matches so far this season but have already conceded 28 goals in the process.

Of course, the damning totals are heavily impacted by the 7-0 defeat to AZ Alkmaar and bruising 9-0 loss to Celtic.

But regardless, in the league only the 20 goals conceded so far represents almost half of the 44 goals against in the entirety of last season.

A much-improve defensive record is required if United are to turn their season around - especially when goals - just three so far in the leaue this season - have proven hard to come by this far.

Get Steven Fletcher fit and firing

THERE'S no doubt Steven Fletcher is still a quality player and could make a major impact on Dundee United's season.

The striker proved as much with his stunning display against AZ Alkmaar at Tannadice.

Fletcher was unplayable that night and showed he's more than capable of turning out excellent displays even at 35.

But what he needs is support and service to thrive. Fletcher will always compete for the scraps - but for the forward to flourish he needs a steady supply of opportunities from his team-mates.

Fletcher has just two goals in nine appearances, but there is no reason he couldn't target a lofty 15-goal return if team performances continue to improve under Fox.

Trust youth players to make an impact

DUNDEE United on paper have a squad capable of seriously competing in the top flight.

In theory, there's a blend of experienced pros, international players, and emerging youth talents.

With the mixture of ages and experience in the squad could come the temptation to stick with the tried and tested in Scotland.

But youngsters Matthew Cudjoe and Sadat Anaku have both staked a claim for more game time. 

The duo are 18 and 21 respectively but have shown they can handle themselves in the Scottish game since moves from Ghana and Uganda.

Add to that Ross Graham who has 26 top-team appearances under his belt and Kieran Freeman and there's a collection of young players who could make an impact this term in the right circumstances.

Archie Meekison, Darren Watson, Miller Thomson and Rory MacLeod all represent the latest batch of youngsters emerging at Tannadice. 

Effective management could see them deliver for United on the pitch but also net a profit if positive performances lead to transfer interest.

Develop club vision with manager appointment

LIAM Fox must implement his vision and the club strategy to achieve tangible success at Tannadice. 

Ross had bolstered the squad in his period in charge, but there was perhaps a sense of mixed ideas both in his strategy with regards tactics and incoming transfers.

Early signs under Fox seem positive with the club achieving a win over Livingston in the League Cup, a goalless draw with Motherwell at Fir Park and narrow defeat to Rangers at Ibrox.

The manager appears to have tightened up the defence from the leaky period with heavy defeats to Celtic, AZ Alkmaar, Hearts and St Mirren.

Already that's a huge change which will be vital for the club, but just as important will be building on the basics and finiding a system and ethos that the club can continue to develop with Fox at the helm.

Unite squad and bring influential players onside

THE clue is in the name but integral to success for Fox at Tannadice is ensuring a United effort.

It starts with a harmonious dressing room and aligned vision between players - senior and yougsters - and staff but must also extend to positive relationships with the board and supporters.

Fans were understandably dismayed by the dire run under Jack Ross and questions were raised over recruitment as results suffered.

But Tam Courts showed in his time in charge success in the league can be achieved on the domestic front with shrewd signings and a collective approach both on and off the pitch.

If Fox can get the dressing room onside - which he already appears to have  done in his interim period - then a much-needed change in fortunes could come quickly.