EXCLUSIVE: Roy MacGregor wants to identify a touch of Sir Alex Ferguson's defiant mentality in Ross County's successor to Malky Mackay
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Roy MacGregor wants his next manager to carry a dash of Sir Alex Ferguson’s defiance into the Ross County job.
The Manchester United legend was renowned for delighting in taking Aberdeen teams south to ruffle the feathers of the Old Firm in their own backyard.
The Staggies' chairman insists his Highland outfit is still viewed as an “imposter” in the Premiership and wants Malky Mackay’s successor to take that Fergie attitude and mentality into away games against the big five city clubs.
MacGregor, who sacked after a meeting between them and CEO Steve Ferguson on Tuesday this week, stressed it was a decision taken purely on the basis of results
County made the decision public on Wednesday morning after Mackay was given time to say his farewells to players and staff.
It ended a two-and-a-half year reign in Dingwall for Mackay, who claimed top six football in is first season, before battling relegation and making an incredible play-off final escape against Partick Thistle last June.
MacGregor insisted that respect and strong bonds of friendship with Mackay meant that he had yet to begin the search for a successor.
That process would start on Wednesday evening, he said.
Asked if he had in mind a type of character for the job, the head of the Global Energy group of companies said: “The city clubs, when we finished sixth, were in a transition phase.
“What’s changed now is that Aberdeen, Hearts and Hibs have been in Europe and have got a lot more money to spend in their playing budgets.
“You would expect the big five teams, in financial terms, to be in the top six in the league and looking to be in Europe.
“The rest of the clubs – what I would call the community clubs – need to be up there with the best of the rest.
“I still feel, 28 or 29 years on, we’re not totally accepted because we’re Highlanders. There’s still that sense that we’re imposters.
“I think the character needs to be a wee bit Fergie-like, in terms of the way Sir Alex Ferguson went to Glasgow in the Aberdeen days and took his team down there to have a go.
“The likes of Hibs, Hearts and Aberdeen have four times our budget. Can we compete with that sort of football budget?
“Can you go down there and ruffle them up in their own backyard or do you view it as a mini-league with the rest of the community clubs?
“We have got to find the answer to that - and choose someone who is not frightened to go into the city clubs’ backyard and dig it out.”
MacGregor revealed that Mackay had asked for it to be made clear that he had been sacked and was not leaving by mutual consent.
He said: “Malky was sacked. We asked if he wanted it phrased ‘by mutual agreement’, but he wanted it known, fair and square, that he would have liked to have stayed for the remaining six months of his contract.
“He particularly didn’t want a joint statement, but for it to be known he was asked to leave.
“That’s respect for the man. I don’t think you will hear anything bad about the club from him.
“The club gave him an opportunity after his challenges in England.
“He respects the people in the club and we are all disappointed it hasn’t worked out for him and the club.”
County had gone nine games without victory, with only one win in their last 10 league games.
In all, Mackay won 30 games, drew 26 and lost 51 in 903 days in charge.
Explaining the thinking and timing behind the decision, MacGregor stressed: “It is pretty simple – it is just results.
“From November 12 last year to November 12 this year, we only won seven games. I think we drew eight.
“On a year to year basis, we would have had 29 points. That won’t keep us in this league.
“We took a bit of a reality check last season. We got out of jail.
“We decided to give a bit more money to the football side and we had hoped we might kick off and be in a better position.
“But we find ourselves kind of in the same position as we were a year ago.
“We’ve been a bit inconsistent and we haven’t quite found the formula. There’s a feeling from everyone at the club that we have underachieved. We have more talent than we are getting points for.
“It is as simple as that. We could have said, as Malky rightly said, that we’re not far off the pack there.
“But we felt that with the amount of midweek games we have over the next period and up to Christmas, if we were to make a change, would it be better now, to give the new manager 26 games?
“It was a particularly bad result down at St Johnstone, a really poor performance, and everyone felt that maybe this was the time.
“I’s really difficult because Malky is a gentleman. Ross County is a club that gets to know their managers, and their manager’s family.
“He did so much off the park in the development and governance of Ross County that was absolutely tremendous in his two and a half years.
“It is disappointing that results didn’t go the right way.
“In the first year, results did go our way and we finished sixth, but last year was a struggle.
“There’s never a good time, but it is totally results-driven. Seven wins in a year is not enough.”
MacGregor confirmed that Mackay’s former assistant manager Don Cowie will take the team before an appointment is made.
But he said he hoped to deliver a new manager over the international break to be in position for the clash with Kilmarnock on November 25.
Already the chairman’s phone has been red hot with approaches from agents and potential managerial candidates.
Neil Lennon, Neil Warnock, Kevin Thomson, Callum Davidson, Scott Brown, Ian Murray and John Hughes are among names already being mentioned.
MacGregor added: “I wouldn’t have disrespected Malky Mackay (by making moves for other individuals).
“He came in today, and saw his staff and players and said his goodbyes.
“Steve Ferguson was there with Don Cowie, who will take the training.
“The football side shuts down for a day or two now with the international break, so we need to work hard over the next day or two to make sure we get a shortlist.
“Judging by my phone already, there will not be a shortage of candidates.
“But we have not done any work on it. We were all shattered by the fact it didn’t work out and there’s been that bit of soul-searching going on.
“We start now - tonight - when we get together and begin to think about what is right for Ross County now.”