Ross County co-manager Steven Ferguson insists survival will constitute success in the Staggies’ first season back in the Premiership.
County yesterday learned their fixtures for the new campaign, with the newly-promoted Dingwall men starting at home to Hamilton Accies on Saturday, August 3.
The Staggies bounced back to the top-flight at the first time of asking following their relegation 12 months ago, but despite carrying momentum into the new season, Ferguson insists he and fellow co-manager Stuart Kettlewell should not look beyond Premiership safety as their initial target.
Ferguson said: “Without sounding negative, we have to be realistic when we look at the Premiership and the clubs that are there.
“There are city clubs who are bigger clubs than us, and established clubs who have played in it last season and know the lie of the land.
“If we stay in the league next season I will be jumping through a hoop.
“We are not looking at it like a relegation fight, but we are showing the respect that the teams in there deserve.
“We have no given right to stay in the Premiership – you just have to ask Dundee and Dundee United – city clubs that would give their right arm to be in the Premiership.”
County’s opening match against Accies is followed by a trip to Tynecastle to face Hearts, with the Staggies then hosting Livingston before facing Aberdeen at Pittodrie on August 31.
Ferguson says the Staggies’ start to the season will go a long way towards determining their end of season goal, adding: “We will set small targets and we’ll see how the season goes.
“Depending on how many points we’ve got after the first 10 games of the season, it could change.
“We want to be as high up that league as we can and have successful cup runs.
“But we have to respect the league and find our feet.
“If you ask me that question 10 weeks into the season you may get a different answer, even 20 games into the season.
“I would imagine it will change. There will be times we will not dominate the ball like we did last year, which we understand, but there will be times when we want to.
“We are a small, provincial club from Dingwall that is going back to the Premiership. We want to ride on the wave of winning the Championship, but realistically how long does that last?
“That depends on how we start.”
County will unveil the Championship flag prior to hosting Hamilton, however Ferguson insists the celebrations will soon be forgotten by the time the Staggies kick off against Brian Rice’s men.
He added: “We don’t underestimate what the group of players achieved last year, but it moves on pretty quickly.
“We all know that’s history now, that’s done. We need to now look to this season and see if we can have people talking about us for the right reasons again.”