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Scot Gardiner reveals Caley Thistle were inundated with applicants from South America for last managerial vacancy

Inverness whittle down their managerial list - but South Americans don't flood the Caledonian Stadium inbox like they did in 2021.

Caley Thistle are looking to make a swift managerial appointment. Image: SNS Group
Caley Thistle are looking to make a swift managerial appointment. Image: SNS Group

Caley Thistle chief executive Scot Gardiner has revealed the club was inundated with applicants from South America the last time they were searching for a new manager.

The Championship side are hoping to appoint a new manager next week following the departure of manager Billy Dodds on Sunday,

Gardiner, along with chairman Ross Morrison, and director and former vice-chairman Graeme Bennett are whittling down the numbers with their focus on candidates well-known to the board.

A nine-game winless run cost Dodds and ICT legend, and assistant manager, Barry Wilson their jobs.

A midweek report in the Daily Record suggests Celtic B head coach Darren O’Dea has been approached about the top post.

Candidates such as Morton manager Dougie Imrie, former Hearts and Dundee United gaffer Robbie Neilson and St Johnstone’s double-cup-winning boss from two years ago Callum Davidson are all linked to the job.

Another contender understood to be in the frame is former Caley Jags defender and Canadian international Richard Hastings.

Club chiefs tapping into contacts

Former ICT managers Charlie Christie and John Robertson will take the team against league visitors Dundee United this weekend, but are not in the running for the permanent post.

Morton boss Dougie Imrie is a front-runner for the Inverness job, according to bookmakers Image: SNS Group

Gardiner said: “There weren’t too many Championship Manager candidates this time – there were a lot more last time to be honest.

“I don’t mind people doing that, they get deleted within seconds.

“Last time we had almost 100 applicants, and almost 70 were from South America which was astonishing.

“Something strange happened, and we got applicants from Venezuela, Chile, Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, everywhere.

“This time that hasn’t happened, which is pleasing, because although some of those applicants may have been good managers, I don’t know why they applied for a job so far away from home.

“This time we have gone down different routes in advertising – much more personal and about using contacts.”

Key decision followed by boss search

Parting company with Dodds and number two Barry Wilson made for a tough end to the weekend.

The decision to axe the leading coaches came the day after a 1-0 defeat at Raith Rovers sent the Fifers 12 points ahead of ICT in the Championship.

Gardiner said: “Sunday was really difficult. It was emotional, and it’s difficult for anyone when they lose their job.

“Monday morning was emotional too, because we said the guys could come in Monday morning to say goodbye to everyone.

“Both Barry and Billy were absolute consummate professionals, but it was very difficult, and it weighs heavy on you because it’s not a nice thing to do.

“Immediately after we put the (sacking) statement out on Sunday night, I was on the phone to people starting to pool contacts.

“You also know there are certain people in the wings who probably will, or might apply. Then you have a list of people who you might like but never get, or you can’t afford.

Billy Dodds, right, and Barry Wilson were sacked on Sunday. Image: Paul Devlin/SNS Group

“Only after the applications started coming in and I started looking at it on Monday night, the trauma of everything started to give way to excitement, because you’re looking at names and thinking ‘he could be interesting’.

“It’s unfortunate, but that’s what I’m charged to do. You start to think about the possibilities, and the applicants this time are fewer but they are very interesting, and very encouraging.

“When Billy came in, we had made the play-offs once in the previous three years. This time, we’ve been in the final of the play-offs and a Scottish Cup final, so maybe that has had an impact.

“This is very, very encouraging, and it has given me an excitement that I didn’t think I would have for a while after Sunday night.”

Promotion remains the sole target

Caley Thistle find themselves two points adrift of Ayr United at the foot of the division.

They have crashed out of the Viaplay Cup and SPFL Trust Trophy and have just one point from five league games.

Gardiner is confident, with these players, the new manager has time to turn it into a successful campaign.

He added: “They don’t have to worry about two cups, so they can focus on the league.

Jamie Gullan scores the winner for Raith Rovers against Caley Thistle on Saturday. Image: SNS Group

“Promotion is always the priority for this club, anything else is a bonus. Sometimes it is more than a bonus as it was last season.

“You don’t budget for making it to a cup final, semi-final or quarter-final. It is not in the plan.

“Everything we are doing is working towards promotion.

“If you change after five games, there is plenty of time.”

Caley Thistle ‘looking for a leader’

And the Inverness chief said the club won’t rule out an assistant coach becoming their top pick.

He said: “We’re looking for leadership. We’ve lost our leader in Billy.

“There is not an age profile. Billy did a really good job almost most of the time he was here – in relation to results. Therefore, it didn’t matter he had only been an assistant manager.

“We are not ruling out anyone. Look at Tony Docherty and what he’s done at Dundee (having been an assistant manager to Derek McInnes). What made him feel it was time for him to take on the manager’s job?

“The profile is a leader who can get us promoted. No matter who it is, it will be a gamble.

Tony Docherty moved into sole management with Dundee this year, having been a long-time assistant to Derek McInnes at Aberdeen and Kilmarnock. Image: Mark Scates/SNS Group

“We have looked at various things such as win percentages, experience, have they come through as academy coaches, or been in different countries with different teams.

“Each of those teams have been a different experience in a different context with different circumstances. You can automatically transplant that into us.

“They have to be a leader and take the skills we think they have to do the job here. It’s a great opportunity for somebody.”