The old cliché goes something like: ‘A week is a long time in football’. Is there any chance we could change that to hours?

Dundee United fans awoke on Wednesday already mulling over the apparently increasing likelihood that Craig Levein would be the man tasked with saving their spiralling season. By early evening, the job was Jim Goodwin’s.

The appointment capped a whirlwind few days of change at Tannadice, change that supporters had been increasingly vocal – and angry – in demanding. Following Saturday’s truly dismal 4-0 defeat up at Ross County, both manager Liam Fox and sporting director Tony Asghar had vacated their respective posts.

These are desperate times, and it seems the club eventually decided they merit desperate measures. It was only last week owner Mark Ogren allegedly told shareholders at the club’s AGM that relegation would not be the end of the world, because he was confident United would come straight back up.

There’s an all-too recent period of history which suggests that would not be a given, as supporters know rather well. Anyway, Fox and Asghar out, Goodwin in, hints that the United hierarchy feel something does need to be done about the prospect of the drop after all.

This is all a far cry from the heady days of last summer and that famous Tannadice night against AZ Alkmaar. Pat Smith and Ronnie Burns were two among thousands who made the journey to the Netherlands for the ill-fated second-leg, savouring a pre-match adventure in Amsterdam the likes of which they could have only dreamed during those years in the second-tier.

Equally so, however, imagine telling them then that by February they’d be fighting for their very lives in the Premiership?

The Herald: Jim Goodwin is set to replace Liam FoxJim Goodwin is set to replace Liam Fox (Image: SNS)

“I’d have went home,” says Ronnie, without missing a beat. He and lifelong fan Pat are racking up the snooker table in The Ambassador bar, awaiting news from just over the road.

“We thought we were in a brilliant place, but from then it’s went right downhill,” says Pat. “They should never have given it to Liam Fox. You could tell the players weren’t happy, that they didn’t want to play against Ross County.”

There’s support for Levein in the room. A poor ending to his last post at Hearts, now three years ago, is seemingly what most remember the ex-Scotland manager for these days. But it was his stint in the United dugout which earned the call to manage the national team, and he is, at least in this pub, still held in high regard.

But in the space of a journey from Tayside back to Glasgow, his name is seemingly wiped off the table, leaving Goodwin the preferred candidate. Who takes charge next seems to be of less importance to these old pals than ensuring that Fox and Asghar left the club, laying bare the depth of frustration felt amongst punters who follow the team home and away. Pat has seen enough this season to confidently declare that Goodwin will be inheriting a squad operating far below the sum of its parts.

“Honest to God, when United get playing, we’ve got a great squad,” he insists. “Nobody can touch them when they’re on-form. I go to every single game, but after Ross County I said I wasn’t going back to any away games until they’ve sorted this out.

“And now, they’re sorting it out. The club know they would have lost the fans; if there hadn’t been any chances they know there wouldn’t have been a soul at Tannadice on Saturday against Aberdeen.

“The fans wouldn’t have turned up, guaranteed. We said we weren’t going back to away games until it’s sorted.”

Talk of boycotts gets Pat into his stride, and he’s soon off fetching a flag for a photo opportunity.  “I think we’ll stay up,” he declares. “You wait and see the Aberdeen game, it’ll be totally different.” It might just need to be. Time is running out for United, five points adrift at the bottom and with the worst form in the division.

And it’s not just the club which suffers from relegation, it’s pubs like this one. If neither Dundee nor United are in the top-flight next season, the visiting crowds all-but disappear and with it a vital income stream. And if that’s the case here, it’s likely the same story for the various other pre-match pitstops dotted around Tannadice and Dens.

“This pub would die,” says Pat. “Every weekend this is mobbed, especially when Rangers and Celtic come through. I stop the buses outside – we get three or four buses every week. It’s my sister’s pub, but it’ll die if one of the two clubs isn’t up in the Premiership.

“Two? Even better, because you’ll get the derbies. We don’t fight – we’re not like your Celtic and Rangers! When we were down in the Championship, you only get a trickle [in comparison]. The visitors are where the money is, it sustains the pub. Everybody comes in here.”

READ MORE: Tony Asghar steps down as Dundee United sporting director

These are the consequences of relegation that don’t often make the pages of newspapers, but they are as real as any consequence United themselves will face if they go down. It’s a tall order facing Goodwin, tasked with turning around a side which looked completely demoralised up in Dingwall.

Whether that apathy was solely with the previous leadership remains to be seen, and a meeting with the club Goodwin left just 33 days ago brings potential for an explosive start to this new era. With Asghar gone, there will almost certainly be further changes to come.

The Tannadice faithful will desperately hope that life back in the Championship is not one of them.