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Manager won't settle for Premiership survival with Ross County

By Will Clark

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Malky Mackay is still aiming high in the Premiership this season, despite seeing Ross County sink to the foot of the table before the first round of fixtures have been completed.

Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Ross County(2) v St.Mirren(3). 16.10.21. Ross County manager Malky Mackay.
Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Ross County(2) v St.Mirren(3). 16.10.21. Ross County manager Malky Mackay.

The Staggies are the only side yet to win a league match, with just three draws to show from their efforts across the opening nine games.

Although there is a long way to go, it feels like a far cry from the ambitious talk from both Mackay and the County board when he was appointed in June.

Then progress was the buzzword, with County anticipating being able to steer clear of a relegation battle for a third consecutive top flight campaign with a new approach on and off the pitch, spearheaded by Mackay.

Through the opening round of games, though, County have stayed positive about their performances.

They can point to having scored as many goals as third-placed Dundee United as a source of optimism that things are not far away from turning around.

Mackay, therefore, is reluctant to reduce Ross County's targets for the 2021/22 season to simply avoiding relegation even though that is what the early form table appears to suggest is realistic.

“I would always want to push to make sure we’re as high as possible in the league," Mackay insisted.

"I don’t think it is about us saying let’s just try and survive, it is not in my make-up and it isn’t what the boys want to do.

"They’re not looking like a team that are bereft of confidence or just desperate to cling on. That’s not what we’re seeing on a Saturday.

“Like anything, we do have to make sure we do have that initial step and make sure we survive.

“There’s certainly a positivity inside myself in terms of my group. I’m not daft. I do get the fact we’re sitting at the bottom of the league.

"Obviously we have to do something better than we have been doing, without question, but there’s an awful lot of games left to go.”

If County are to achieve those goals and put more points on the board, they will need to cut out the individual errors that have plagued them in recent matches.

At various times, it could be argued that Jack Baldwin, Jack Burroughs, Harry Clarke and Ashley Maynard-Brewer have all made mistakes leading to goals in the Staggies' last two games.

Those are moments that Mackay could not account for on the training pitch, but he believes the coaching team are doing all that can be done to stamp them out.

“You have to get it out on the table," he reasoned.

"There’s no point in hiding from that. My belief has always been there is no magic wand in football – it is hard work.

“What you do is show them. It isn’t easy viewing because I’ve been there myself when the manager is about to flick something on and you’re thinking: ‘this is me, this next bit’.

“You want to disappear behind your chair, but it’s purely education. It is the exact same as any other profession, you’re learning your trade.

“You don’t tell them, you ask them – you want to know if they’re actually getting it or not.

“Over a period of years, I’ve seen that’s where most people learn. Next time the wee alarm bell is ringing in there.

“You hope over a period people learn. If they keep making the same mistake, they have to come out of the team and you reassess where things are."

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