Danny Devine reckons boss Duncan Ferguson is helping Caley Thistle strike the perfect balance as they bid to further climb the Championship.
Saturday sees the Highlanders host second-top Raith Rovers as two of the division’s in-form teams go head-to-head.
Second-placed Rovers have lost just once in the league this season and are nine successive games without defeat.
They are four points behind Dundee United with a match in hand and have the chance to move to within one point of the top, with the Tangerines’ fixture at Morton postponed this weekend.
Seventh-placed Inverness have not lost in the seven fixtures since Ferguson replaced Billy Dodds in late September.
Including in the 1-1 draw at leaders Dundee United in October, they have mainly set up with the three at the back, supported with a fluid five in the middle and two up top.
🔜 We're back in home action on Saturday as we face Raith Rovers at the Caledonian Stadium in cinch Championship action
🎟️ Tickets available from https://t.co/iOIFJ8EV0e – buy in advance to save money!
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) November 29, 2023
Boss ‘sets us up in a good shape’
Devine believes the changes are working well as they seek a win which could see them overtake Ayr United into sixth spot given the Honest Men’s game at Arbroath has been postponed due to the weather.
He said: “Tactically, the manager has been good for us. When he came in, we had quite a young team, with quite a few young lads and we were maybe a bit naïve at times, but the manager has brought a tactical awareness to the team.
“He sets us up in a good shape. When we’re attacking, he makes sure we’ve bodies behind the ball.
“At the same time, going forward, we need to get bodies in the box to create plenty of chances.
“For me at the back, seeing the game in front of me helps. It has been good in that sense.”
Ferguson ‘brings positivity’ to ICT
Devine explained the positive nature of ex-Rangers and Everton star Ferguson rubs off on all the squad as they aim to match his on-field demands.
He said: “The manager has been really good, like a breath of fresh air.
“You know what his character is like – he is always on the go.
“He brings positivity around the stadium and the training ground. He demands high standards.
“It has shown on the pitch as well, which always helps. It has been enjoyable.”
Raith have quality going forward
Raith arrive in the Highlands with several injury concerns, yet that didn’t stop them beating derby hosts Dunfermline 3-0 last week in the Scottish Cup to line up a fourth-round crack at Premiership Livingston next month.
Rovers’ last-gasp 1-0 victory against ICT in September was Dodds’ last act as manager and Devine said their opponents’ change of approach wrong-footed them.
He added: “Raith have got a lot of quality, especially in attack. They have a lot of very good tactical players.
“I was a bit surprised with them last time. Last season, they were a total football team, who passed out from the back, whereas they were quite direct in the last game. I don’t know if we’re going to get more of the same.
“It will be a tough challenge, no matter who they play. because they have got good quality throughout their team, especially in the forward areas.”
ICTFC will face @BroomhillFC at home in the Fourth Round of the Scottish Cup
Fourth Round ties to take place the weekend of Saturday 20 January 2024 pic.twitter.com/dXJGnl6cdQ
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC (@ICTFC) November 26, 2023
Devine happy with Scottish Cup draw
Meanwhile, Devine, who lifted the Scottish Cup with ICT in 2015, was happy to draw Lowland League opponents Broomhill in the fourth round for a tie set for January 20.
That was their reward for their hard-fought 2-0 win against Cowdenbeath, also of the Lowland League, last weekend thanks to late goals from David Wotherspoon and Billy Mckay.
The Northern Irishman said: “You always want to play the big teams, home or away, but at the same time, this is a great opportunity for us to get through to the next stage.
“However, it was tough against Cowdenbeath, so we will certainly not take anything for granted. You can’t do that, especially in the cup.
“Broomhill will be coming here to cause an upset. They will make it difficult for us, like Cowdenbeath did, but it will be up to us to make sure our attitude is right, and we put on a good performance to get the win and get through.”