Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell feels Angelo Alessio has risen to the thankless task of succeeding Steve Clarke as Kilmarnock manager.
Clarke left Killie in the summer to take up the Scotland national team job after an outstanding 18-month stint at Rugby Park, in which he guided the club into Europe by finishing third with a record points tally.
Although the Ayrshire men endured a turbulent start under Alessio, being knocked out of the Europa League by part-time Welsh outfit Connah’s Quay Nomads, Killie have made a strong recovery and sit fifth in the Premiership.
Kettlewell feels today’s opponents have gone on to make a smooth transition under the Italian, and he said: “Football players are a strange beast and when they get used to somebody, like the methods and like the voice, then it can always have a slight effect.
“You would be very silly to have changed what had happened at a club like Kilmarnock. With what they achieved last season there wasn’t an awful lot wrong, so you’re not going to try to fix something that’s not broken.
“It is probably the toughest gig. Take the Celtic situation – we’ve spoken to Neil Lennon off the back of that.
“He’s now starting to implement a slightly different way of playing and Celtic look easily as good as they were previously. They have that edge now where they look like they’re trying to score every time they attack.
“It is a similar situation at Kilmarnock. I remember listening in the summer and thinking ‘who actually wants this Kilmarnock job?’
“It seems like a great job in theory, but to try and follow suit after what Steve Clarke did.
“I think you’ve got to try and say it is a terrific job that’s been done to this point, with Kilmarnock still punching slightly above where most would expect them to be.”
Although Killie occupy a top-half position they have not won in their last three games, including a 3-0 loss at Livingston in their last outing.
Kettlewell is refusing to read too far into last weekend’s result, adding: “It’s not a youthful team that might be inconsistent, you have a lot of guys who have played at a good level for a good period of time.
“We fully expect, even of the back of Kilmarnock’s last game, that is the version we’re going to see here.
“Livingston are the type of team that can go and score three against you as we discovered to our cost, so I don’t think that’s a great indicator of what we’ll see in Dingwall.”
County are without midfielders Ross Draper, Iain Vigurs and Tom Grivosti who are sidelined through injury.