Shutting out the noise can help Ross County focus on the job of staying in the Premiership, starting today at Dundee United.
That’s the view of Staggies manager John Hughes as he gets his 11th-placed team ready to go for goals and a clean sheet if at all possible at Tannadice this afternoon.
With only games against bottom side Hamilton on May 12 and Motherwell four days later to conclude a high pressure season, Hughes is happy with how his players have responded since losing 3-1 to St Mirren 10 days ago.
The heat is on for County to score their first league victory since beating fellow relegation rivals Kilmarnock on March 6 – that’s five fixtures ago.
That’s why the focus has been very much in-house, according to Hughes, who stressed: “We can’t overthink our situation.
“We can’t read the articles about Ross County or have any outside influences. We have to focus on what we are doing. You have to take it as it comes and embrace it. We’re looking at all the small details and I said don’t expect it all to happen on a Saturday if you are not doing it on the training pitch. You train how you play.”
United, who lined up next week’s Scottish Cup semi-final shot at Hibs by beating Aberdeen 3-0 on Sunday, will go into this clash with confidence. Despite just missing out on the top six, they have won five of their last six matches.
Hughes concedes that United are the better side, but he expects his players to forget the stats and roll up their sleeves to deliver as they have on several occasions this term.
He said: “It is just about picking the right team and the right tactics and let Dundee United know they are in a game. They will expect a hard game. If I’m honest, they are probably a better team than us and their cup run shows that.
“But Celtic, Hibs and Aberdeen are better teams than us and we beat them, so we have to be at it, clever and calculated and disciplined to get the three points.”
The Victoria Park boss has been driving his group on this week, pressing for one final push as the season reaches boiling point.
He added: “All credit to them because there has been a real intensity in their training. A lot of it comes from my big voice hollering out demands, getting into them and not letting them away with anything. ‘That’s not acceptable, you’re better than that, come on.’
“From the intensity in training, I can see they are taking it on board and now I hope they can take that into the game on Saturday. The games with the real intensity are the games that we’ve won. I hope that will be the case on Saturday.”