John Robertson’s decision to take a break from football following a family bereavement is a stark reminder of just how tough these last 12 months have been on all of us.
I feel for John and I hope his spell away from the game affords him the space and time he so clearly needs to mourn with those around him.
I know he is a high-profile character in Scottish football and, knowing John as I do, it will not have been a decision he has taken lightly, but we forget it’s only a game at times and family should always come first.
That is why I was so pleased to see Caley Thistle not only grant him compassionate leave, but also let the manager take all the time he feels is required before returning to Caledonian Stadium. It speaks volumes about the people at the club for recognising that.
While John takes some time out, I’m intrigued to see how Neil McCann gets on in the dugout as interim boss.
I’ve always been impressed by how Neil has handled himself since hanging up his boots and he is one of the pundits I have always enjoyed listening to.
Being able to talk a good game does not make you a good manager, but, having had a tough time in his first managerial job at Dundee, I expect Neil has been shrewd enough to look back on his last coaching role and learned from it.
We’ll see how his experience at Dens Park has shaped his coaching style during his time at Caledonian Stadium – however long that may be.
He did not tweak the team too much for Friday’s draw with Hearts and Caley Thistle showed they remain a capable side in the Championship by pushing the leaders to the limit.
It was a good night all round for Inverness, who had been boosted by the incredible generosity of the Hearts fans who snapped up more than 9,000 virtual tickets to swell the coffers at Caledonian Stadium. In these tough financial times, the gesture’s magnitude deserves recognition.
Now that Neil has got his first game out of the way he will be eager to get down to business and the challenge of hauling Inverness up the table into the play-offs.
The nature of the Championship this season means it is a wide open race in the league.
Hearts remain 12 points clear at the top of the table, but there is so little between the other teams that a run of three or four wins will go a long way to pushing any team into contention for one of the three play-off spots.
Caley Thistle should be up there fighting it out, but they have the added challenge of needing to win their games in hand.
They are playing catch-up as they begin a busy spell of two games a week, but they are capable of forcing their way into the race if they can avoid injuries during the upcoming run.
Three-horse race to avoid bottom spots
Ross County find themselves in a three-horse race to avoid the bottom two spots in the Scottish Premiership following another unpredictable weekend.
If I was in the habit of putting on a football coupon, the top flight in Scotland is one league I would not go near because, other than a Rangers win, I would struggle to feel confident about predicting any other result on a given weekend.
Motherwell’s excellent 2-0 victory at Hibernian has given them a six-point cushion over County, with Kilmarnock and Hamilton Accies just behind them, while the Staggies can feel aggrieved at not having a point to show for their efforts after losing out to a debatable penalty at St Mirren.
Kilmarnock are the visitors to Dingwall on Saturday for one of the most important matches of the season.
With three games to go before the split, it is vital John Hughes and his players get as many points on the board as they can as the post-split fixtures promise to be not for the faint of heart.
Dons still have eyes for third place
It was another hard luck story for Aberdeen at Celtic Park, but I am seeing signs Derek McInnes and his players still have the belief they can finish third in the Premiership.
Losing to a deflected Odsonne Edouard strike was painful, but the Dons did create chances in Glasgow.
Putting the ball in the back of the net remains Aberdeen’s Achilles Heel at the moment, but Hibs missed a great chance to extend their lead on the Dons.
The split is fast approaching and if Aberdeen can keep in touch before then it will be all to play in final five matches of the season.