This week Ross County welcome Inverness Caledonian Thistle to Victoria Park for the Highland derby and it couldn’t be set up any better. Caley are now unbeaten in four after a tough start to the season. They lost two or three of their best players but they have bounced back and we’re pretty much the same, having not lost in five outings.
There’s always an edge to the Highland derby but with both teams going into it in such high confidence it’s set to be a cracker.
A win could put us in the top three and the old cliché says you take each game as it comes but there is intention there.
Third would be absolutely wonderful but we have to be realistic. We would love to finish in the top three but with big teams like Celtic, Aberdeen, Hearts and Dundee United it will be tough. So a realistic ambition is to reach the top six. It’ll be difficult as we’ll have our bad spells as well but the intent is definitely there.
Once you start thinking about top six there is the risk of getting carried away and ending up with egg on your face, but if you can get into the top six you do start thinking about Europe.
It was great for Inverness to get there last year. It doesn’t matter how you get there. Having been in Europe as a player and as a coach it is fairytale stuff.
For two small clubs in the Highlands and us coming up from the Highland League to get into Europe it would be ridiculous and magnificent at the same time. If we did that it would cap a monumental rise for the fans.
As I’ve said though we can’t get carried away – focus too much on the future and you suffer in the present. It’s still just a dream at the moment but for Ross County to even be mentioned in a conversation about European football is an achievement in itself.
Aberdeen dodged a bullet last week and can really challenge Celtic
Aberdeen got away with one when they lost to Inverness last week.
That could have really knocked them off their stride but I think they dodged a bullet. They lost to a Caley team that is getting stronger by the week but with Celtic also dropping two points I bet Derek McInnes was saying “I’m gutted we lost but at least we only dropped a point” – so the confidence won’t be knocked as much as it could have been.
I think when you look at last year and the fact that they’ve already beaten Celtic this year there’s every reason to think they can push the Bhoys all the way.
I said to Derek when we last spoke that if they can get to the split and be within three points they’ll have a chance. The loss of Virgil van Dijk and the players that Aberdeen now have means the playing field has levelled somewhat.
It would still take a monumental effort from the Dons to go on and win but I have a feeling they will push them really close and could even nick it.
If they can turn it into a five-game league once they get to the split they will put Celtic under real pressure.
The games between those two sides will go a long way to deciding it and with one win already it’s advantage Aberdeen. If they can win one more and share the 12 points on offer they’ll be a real worry for Celtic in the closing stages.
Great to see Aberdeen players in the Scotland squad again
It’s fantastic to see Graeme Shinnie get into the Scotland side. It’s a little disappointing to think he needed a move to a bigger club to really get noticed but it’s great to see him in the Scotland squad as I think you need to have a presence from the home league in the national side.
It was a similar scenario when I was playing. I broke into the Scotland team while at Dundee United but it wasn’t until I moved to Rangers that I really felt like I’d solidified my position in the squad.
It may have taken a while for him to break in but there is no doubting Graeme’s ability. He’s getting better and better and he deserves it. He played in a good Inverness team and stood out there and he’s at a top team now and reaping the rewards.
Dundee United will be back to winning ways in no time
It a shame to see my old club Dundee United struggling at the wrong end of the table and that it has cost Jackie McNamara his job but I honestly think it will be fixed very soon.
We played them three weeks ago and Billy Mckay has transformed them. They were unlucky not to get something from us and we said to Jackie after the game he will make a huge difference for them.
I was a little stunned to see them lose their next two games. They are a very good team but they are lacking confidence.
There’s a pressure at Dundee United and it can be too much for the players to carry. They are very close to turning the corner though and I still think they’ll finish in the top six. They’re not a poor side they’re just not getting the right results.
The players will be quiet in training as its not working on the pitch so whoever goes in there will have to go in and create a positive atmosphere as soon as possible. If they do that they’ll win a game soon and kick on from there.
I know the club, I know the players and they are creating the chances – they just aren’t converting them. They don’t even need a win straight away they just need a goal or two and that confidence will come flooding back.
There’s no wholesale changes required at Tannadice, just a couple of tweaks, some goals and a win and then they will be off.
Is it a job I’m interested in? You can never say never in football but I can’t stress strongly enough how much I love it where I am.
The chairman has been brilliant and we’ve worked really hard to put a squad together and I’d be mad to walk away from something like that.
You never know in football and Dundee United is a huge club waiting to kick on again but the timing is not right given my ambitions at Ross County and where I want to help take this club.
Stephen Craigan must be frontrunner for the Motherwell job
The Motherwell job is also up for grabs after they dismissed Ian Baraclough and an educated guess would be that Stephen Craigan has to be the favourite for the role after he got his head out in front with a win last week.
I think if he wins this week it could clinch the deal for him. It’s always a shame when a manager gets the boot and I spoke to Ian after the news broke. I have to say I have always liked him and found him thoroughly enjoyable to talk to. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea but he’s a hard worker and I’m sure he’ll bounce back.
He did a lot of good work there and he’s left a structure that the next manager will benefit hugely from.
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