Caley Thistle legend Ross Tokely believes the club’s new manager can boost their own chances of climbing the ladder by winning promotion to the top-flight.
The classy former marauding full-back (42), who starred a record 589 times for ICT, played for five of the club’s eight managers to date.
He watched with interest last week when his former boss John Robertson was confirmed as the club’s first sporting director.
That follows Robbo taking time away from management on compassionate leave from February, with Neil McCann doing well in interim charge.
McCann, alongside former Scotland striker and ex-Ross County assistant boss Billy Dodds, guided the team from ninth to fifth in a short spell, missing out on a top-four Championship finish by a mere three points.
McCann has opted not to go for the ICT vacancy, which closes on Friday, while Dodds is the frontrunner according to the bookies.
Tokely paid credit to the club for having form in getting the right man in.
He said: “Caley Thistle have always recruited really good managers. There is a long list of managers, the likes of Craig Brewster, John Robertson, Charlie Christie and John Hughes.
“It’s a good club to manage. Steve Paterson left to go to Aberdeen and John Robertson joined Hearts from Caley Thistle, so it’s a good place to come and do well at and be recognised.
“It’s the same for players. When they shine at Inverness, they can move on.
“The club looks after managers, so there’s stability there. Whoever comes in, with the support from John and the backroom staff, it’s important that they appoint the right person.
“If that is Billy Dodds, given what he did last season, then great because they need someone in quickly to get the players who are out of contract sorted.
“Recruitment will be key for the season ahead. You don’t want to be spending another year in the Championship.
“They had a poor start last season and that killed them in the end when they came up short.”
The ex-defender, who was snapped up by Steve Paterson in 1996, understands why Dodds is considered the favourite, given his impact alongside McCann.
He explained: “Neil done really well. I did say there was a point where the season could have gone either way and they really kicked on under Neil and Billy Dodds.
“Maybe the majority of the fans might have thought Neil would just have slipped into that role, but for whatever reason he’s decided not to.
“Billy worked really well alongside Neil. We have seen in the past being a manager is a different ball game.”
Caley Jags have real Championship chance in 2022
Kilmarnock from the Premiership and Championship runners-up Dundee will go head-to-head in the play-off final over two legs on Thursday and next Monday.
The loser will be with ICT next term in tier two and Tokely sees no reason why either club would give the Highlanders the chills.
He explained: “Both these teams are vying to be in the Premiership. Should it be Kilmarnock that drop down, there may well be a severe hit in their finances. There has been in the past.
“They might have to cut their budget. They certainly won’t be a Hearts, with the big budget that they were working with last season.
“Caley Thistle should be quite confident to compete with either of those clubs, should Dundee stay in the Championship or Kilmarnock drop down. I see no fears there for Inverness.
“The league will be closer at the top next season. Hearts won that league just by grinding out results, so that’s why Caley Thistle need to get the management on board and get off to a quicker start than last season. That would help them compete.”
Two ex-Caley Jag stars in the frame
Two of Tokely’s former team-mates at Inverness are closely behind Dodds on the bookies’ list of possible replacements for Robbo.
Former Arbroath manager Paul Sheerin and Dons under-18s and first-team coach are rated at Aberdeen and might well be key figures under the new manager there, Stephen Glass.
However, their links to Inverness and the chance to boss the club they served so well might be a pull for them.
Tokely can understand why the chance of front-line management might appeal to one or both of them.
He explained: “I know Paul and Barry are highly respected. Whether they would come individually or as a pair, that would be another option to consider.
“Both live in the Aberdeen area, but as a first main job for them this would be a really good start.
“They were both very good players, but they are also really respected at Aberdeen for the work they’re doing there.
Robbo’s football knowledge ‘one of the best in Scotland’
Many of Tokely’s days starring at the back for ICT came under Robertson and he has no doubt that his former boss will continue to drive the club forward, albeit from a new position.
He said: “It’s nice to see John back. I enjoyed working under him. It’s maybe unusual to see a sporting director at Championship level, but he’ll relish being back.
“Having gone through hard times, he’ll come into what should be a less pressured job.
“John’s very infectious. His football knowledge is probably one of the best in Scotland.
“The job overall is to get Caley Thistle back to the Premiership, so it will be all hands to the pump. I am sure he will play a key part in that.”