ICT legend Ross Tokely: Pressure’s all on Tayside in Scottish Championship title tussle

The Press & Journal Scottish Highland League.
Huntly FC (orange/black) V Brora Rangers FC (red)
Picture of Brora Rangers manager Ross Tokely.

Picture by KENNY ELRICK     02/08/2017
The Press & Journal Scottish Highland League. Huntly FC (orange/black) V Brora Rangers FC (red) Picture of Brora Rangers manager Ross Tokely. Picture by KENNY ELRICK 02/08/2017

Caley Thistle legend Ross Tokely believes his old club can capitalise on huge pressures weighing on the Tayside clubs in next season’s Championship.

Tokely, who made a club record 589 appearances across four divisions in 16 years with Inverness, is convinced John Robertson’s team can mount a renewed title challenge next season.

Relegated Dundee and play-off failures Dundee United are likely to be generously backed by respective American owners eager to reinstate them in the top-flight.

But Tokely is convinced they will also face a huge burden of expectation up against less-fancied rivals like Inverness.

United manager Robbie Neilson is likely to be given further scope to improve his squad after significant January spending.

New Dens Park manager James McPake – potentially under director of football Gordon Strachan – will also be investing heavily.

Tokely, 40, said: “It will be another interesting league with two Dundee sides in there next season. Robbie Neilson basically brought in a brand new team last January.

“They’ll be spending the money again, as will Dundee, but Caley Thistle just need to do what they do best and not worry about anyone else.

“They just need to build momentum and wins – and leave the pressure to Dundee and Dundee United. That’s where the pressure and spotlight will be.

“I’m looking forward to what lies ahead.

“Every year under Robbo Caley Thistle have improved and, hopefully, this year they can emulate what we did when we won it back in 2009/10 and get on a really strong run.”

Tokely, currently looking for work but enjoying life as Caley Thistle’s under 15s coach in his spare time, remains a keen observer of his former club’s fortunes.

He understands the concerns of supporters following the departure of midfielders Liam Polworth to Motherwell and Joe Chalmers to Ross County.

But Tokely believes Robertson has the transfer market expertise to replenish the ranks.

He said: “They’ve signed a lad from the lower leagues, David Carson, but who knows? He might be the next Richie Hart.

“Steve Paterson bought Richie from Brora Rangers for a few grand and he became a great player for us. John will be looking to replace them with hungry types who have taken a hit in their careers.

“A Scottish Cup semi-final and a play-off position wasn’t bad last year and I think they will be looking to tidy up on the draws.

“John has done a great job with the limited budget he has. He has a good eye for a player and he’ll replace the players he loses.

“Inverness has always been that kind of club where players come to rebuild their careers and then move on.”

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