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Ross County chairman Roy MacGregor was taken aback by initial hostility to ex-SFA performance director Malky Mackay's appointment as Staggies' manager in Dingwall

By Alasdair Fraser

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Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Rangers(4) v Ross County(2). 07.11.21. Ross County manager Malky Mackay.
Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Rangers(4) v Ross County(2). 07.11.21. Ross County manager Malky Mackay.

Roy MacGregor admits he underestimated the likelihood of a supporter backlash to Malky Mackay’s appointment as Ross County manager last summer.

Early season controversy aside, though, the Staggies’ chairman feels the former Scottish FA performance director is winning hearts and minds in Dingwall, while implementing a crucial change in the club’s culture.

Mackay’s troubles began in 2014 when former club Cardiff City sent a dossier to the English FA relating to text message exchanges with sporting director Iain Moody.

Mackay apologised for two messages he admitted were disrespectful of other cultures, but denied racism, sexism and homophobia. Neither individual was ever charged by the FA. The allegations have dogged Mackay ever since, despite a successful spell as development strategist within the SFA.

Anti-racism group Kick It Out made supportive comments at the time of his appointment, noting he had since undertaken equality and diversity training.

MacGregor admitted: “Looking back, some of the supporter backlash at the beginning was more than I thought a Highland club could have produced.

“Maybe we didn’t explain the depth of what the thinking was in hiring him. It was more than a football manager. He got a hard time and people were not giving him a chance, (but) in the last spell I think people have got quite excited about what they have seen. There’s a bit of flair to the team and we’re the fourth highest goalscorers.

Roy MacGregor
Roy MacGregor

“We are getting there, and I’m confident going into the last 18 games we will have enough to move up the league. I’m not on social media, but I hear that there has been a turn.

“I chased Malky for seven years, but I never thought he would come to this level of football. It was just the right time, place and opportunity.

“His experience of managing in the Premier League in England, and overachieving, was important. If he continues his growth, he will go back to something bigger and better. To a degree, the rehabilitation was a bit of UEFA, FIFA and Scottish FA, then back to club football.”

MacGregor detailed a top to bottom reorganisation in County’s football operation under Mackay, adding: “Normally chairmen hire managers to manage 100 per cent. This wasn’t what we were doing.

“Bobbing around from manager to manager, they all came with different strategies and ways, their own players and staff. We needed to really focus hard from top to bottom, first team to community, all aligned.

“We have changed the medical side quite dramatically, (with) a consultant who is a Man City consultant. On the football side, we had to rebuild completely at the end of an era of players with us for five to 10 years.

“I’m really confident that we have more than achieved what I thought we would get from Malky. As much as what is on the park is really important, the set-up for the next 10 years was as important to me.”

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