Caley Thistle chief Scot Gardiner insists falling a dozen points behind Championship leaders Raith Rovers after just five fixtures was the point where Billy Dodds’ spell in charge had to come to an end.
He explained that sacking Dodds and assistant Barry Wilson on Sunday was a tough call because the board always believed the run of alarming form could be halted.
However, with the club determined to become promotion chasers rather than relegation battlers, the decision was made to react, and Dodds was let go just a few months after signing a new two-year deal and reaching the Scottish Cup final.
The Hampden defeat to treble-winners Celtic in June followed ICT finishing sixth in the Championship on the back of a last-day loss to Ayr United.
Including defeats in the League and Challenge Cups, Inverness are winless in their last nine fixtures.
It’s the third successive season where the team have dipped with worrying results, although there were factors, mainly injuries, to blame for some of those slumps.
In 2021/22, the side went 11 games on the spin without winning before a sweeping 3-0 victory over Arbroath was a turning point.
From there, they reached the Premiership play-off final where they lost to St Johnstone after being level after three-quarters of the tie before losing 6-2.
Last term, another batch of injuries hampered their form, with eight successive league matches without a win recorded from October 18 to January 2.
Why was Billy Dodds sacked by Caley Thistle?
Gardiner said missing out on the top four last term allied with a rock-bottom start this season led to Dodds’ demise.
He said: “Billy, in his first year, had to get time. We believed he could turn it around and he did.
“We were 45 minutes away from promotion in Perth (when they lost to St Johnstone in the play-off final). You could say that’s the correct decision.
“The second season, tangibly and factually, we had 10 players out, with five long-term injuries. It was not Billy’s fault.
“They were not training ground injuries, they were impacts and broken legs and the like. It’s not the fault of the medical or football department. They were not over-trained or anything like that.
“Last season, we finished sixth in the league, which is terrible for us. Getting promoted is our only priority every year. But we were sixth in the league.
“On Saturday, September 9, (after losing to Arbroath in the SPFL Trust Trophy), we were out of two cups and bottom of the Championship. We didn’t tangibly have loads of injuries, so we were not looking good at all.
“You then play really well (at Raith Rovers) and still lose. When you go five league games into the season and you are 12 points behind the league leaders, when our only priority as a football club is to get promoted, then you must look at it.”
Time for new boss to spark reaction
Gardiner described Dodds as “a consummate professional, who was totally committed”.
However, he explained that on the back of missing out on the promotion play-offs in May, the latest winless start meant the board had little option but to make the tough call.
He said: “This time it was different and seen in the context of finishing sixth.
“If we made the change, we still have to play almost half the teams in the league at least four times and the others three times. Therefore, there is plenty of time to get the train back on the rails.
“As difficult as a decision as it was, it was unanimous what we should do.”