Caley Thistle defender Brad Mckay reckons his side will struggle to catch his former manager Robbie Neilson by surprise when Dundee United visit Caledonian Stadium in the Championship today.
Mckay played under Neilson at Hearts, before the 25-year-old left to join St Johnstone following the Tynecastle club’s promotion back to the top-flight in 2015.
Although the Jambos won the Championship title by an impressive margin of 21 points that year, Mckay says the key to Hearts’ success was Neilson’s extensive focus on nullifying the threat of opposing teams.
Mckay expects Neilson, who was appointed United boss in October following an unsuccessful spell with English side MK Dons, to be well drilled on John Robertson’s Caley Jags side this afternoon.
Mckay said: “He’s a bit different to any other manager I have worked under. Most managers have a way they want to play, they obviously look at the opposition but they will have their own way of going and beating a team.
“He’s different though. If you are playing against a team that plays a three or a five at the back, he will train all week on how to break that down and beat them.
“It obviously worked very well at Hearts, but there was one occasion when we played Queen of the South on the Saturday, expecting them to play three at the back.
“We trained all week on how to break them down, but he turned the sheet over and they were playing four at the back.
“It kind of threw him off a bit, so he said ‘just go out and play’. That was probably the one time he got caught out – although we ended up beating them anyway.
“That’s how he works. From Monday all the way through to Saturday, it’s about to break the other team down. That’s how he is and he’s not going to change that.”
Despite a strong start under Neilson, United have taken one point from their last two matches, with a humbling 5-0 home loss to Ayr United followed by last week’s 1-1 draw with Morton.
Mckay does not feel they have lost momentum however, adding: “They were very well organised in the 1-1 draw against us compared to what they were before, but I watched the game against Ayr and they got hammered.
“Take away that game and they have been on a decent run. Dundee United are very good on their day though.”
The visit of United will be Inverness’ first league game since their 25-match undefeated league run was ended by Falkirk in a 3-2 loss on December 1, following the postponement of last weekend’s trip to Ayr United.
Mckay says his side must not dwell on their first loss of the league campaign, adding: “The run was just madness, when you look at teams at the bottom end of the table beating higher teams.
“It’s a mad league. But if you put together a run of wins, I think it puts you right up in contention. You can put yourself right in with a chance.
“I said before, I would have given up a lot of the draws to lose a game to win three in a row.
“You want to win games – you train all week to do that on a Saturday and we look to do that every week.”