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Ross County will look to appoint new manager before clash with Celtic on Wednesday night

By Alasdair Fraser

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ROY MacGregor says he will look to appoint a new Ross County manager within the next 48 hours.

Ross County are looking for their new manager.
Ross County are looking for their new manager.

He has offered former manager Stuart Kettlewell who was sacked on Saturday, the chance to return to a role at the club's youth academy.

The chairman spoke of the distress and personal “shock” of an emotional parting of ways with Kettlewell immediately after Saturday’s 2-0 home defeat to Hamilton Accies.

Derek Adams, currently prospering at Morecambe in England’s League Two, and unemployed John Hughes and Tommy Wright are believed to be under consideration by the club financier.

But MacGregor, given County’s increasingly desperate struggles this season, admitted the appointment might initially be short-term in nature with sole focus on survival this season.

He aims to move swiftly to fill the post - preferably before Celtic’s visit on Wednesday.

Kettlewell, with over 11 years’ service as player, coach and manager, leaves with the club four points adrift at the foot of the Premiership and without a league win in 10 games since mid-September.

The 36-year-old’s record since taking sole charge at the start of the season, with Steven Ferguson moving upstairs to become chief executive, read played 24, lost 12 and won just five.

Only three of those wins were in the Premiership.

But Kettlewell’s legacy remains intact at the club where, as a player, he won a First Division title and Challenge Cup, while starring in the giant-killing team that reached the 2010 Scottish Cup final under Adams.

As youth coach, he masterminded a stunning Premiership development league title triumph, pipping Celtic, Rangers and Aberdeen to the youth crown.

As co-manager with Ferguson, he also won a Championship and Challenge Cup double.

Despite emotions running high, MacGregor’s sharp business mind was quickly on the case in the search for a successor - although he insists no moves were made before the sacking.

Announcing the new job offer to Kettlewell, MacGregor said: “It’s been an extremely tough one for us, not just on Saturday but for a few weeks.

“Everyone, including Stuart, was aware of the situation.

“We’d hoped he would get a reaction from the players, particularly in the last two games, but that didn’t happen.

“We had two games this week that looked winnable, but we didn’t look like winning either.

“It was affecting Stuart as well.

“He has been offered the opportunity to go back to his Academy post, so it is not a case of us putting him out the door.

“He stepped up into the managerial job willingly and is part of the fabric of Ross County. “We’re not ditching him, but this project hasn’t worked. That’s where we are.

“He’s having a think about that. He just wants some time.

“The family have had a new baby recently and all that pressure has been upon the family, so I told him to take two or three weeks off just to go and think about it.

“The club is prepared to look after him.

“(His appointment) was a project we were all behind as a club, and it hasn’t worked.”

MacGregor insists he waited longer than he might have to wield the axe, given Kettlewell’s closure relationship.

The chairman stressed: “It was emotional on Saturday, but myself, Steven Ferguson and Stuart all knew the situation.

“It had been talked about.

“On a human level, I’m in a little bit of shock. What we created at the club was a Ross County model, with Ross County people.

“This bit of it didn’t work. Everyone’s in shock with that, but we’ve also got to be real - it wasn’t working.”

Quizzed on the likely timescale was for the new appointment, MacGregor said: “I’ve just started to work on it now, out of respect for Stuart.

“I knew this scenario could arise, but I didn’t do anything about it until 9pm last night, when I began the process.

“I would think we will move very quickly.

“This is a short-term project, probably. We’re in a situation where we have four and a half months and 20 games remaining.

“We can’t take that as a long-term project. Any manager who is seeking a two or three year project would likely look to begin it in the summer.

“This is about trying to remobilise what we’ve got, probably take a few players in and try to get security again in this division - and then start a project.

“I think it will be a short-term appointment with, hopefully, a longer-term view.

“But the short-term is we have to patch-up this situation. We need a character who will lift the dressing room.”

Asked if assistant manager Richie Brittain and first team coach Don Cowie would take charge on Wednesday, MacGregor stressed: “I think something will happen before that.

“It is very unusual times and a wee bit more complicated than usual. I have to ensure whoever is coming in is tested. We’re all in bubbles. It is a wee bit more complicated than usual.

“I’m not sure how that will look as we go through this week.

“But we have four games, Wednesday-Saturday for two weeks, with 20 games to go.

“That’s a challenge at the best of times, but at least we have half the season to try to put it right - and we need to do that as quickly as possible.”

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