John Maxwell has written weekly about Ross County in the Press and Journal for seven full seasons.
However, such is his anger at the appointment of Malky Mackay as the Premiership club’s new manager that he is calling time on it.
Just yet, he’s not sure how many, if any, games he’ll watch under Mackay, whose appointment has caused mostly fury among followers of the Dingwall club.
Text messages of a racist, sexist and homophobic nature when he was boss of Cardiff City led to an FA investigation, from which he undertook equality and diversity training.
John said: “I now don’t know how much I will be watching Ross County after this, so sadly I will not be writing my column.
“I feel uneasy about analysing the season ahead with Malky in place. I am scunnered by it, to be honest.”
Cardiff successes overshadowed by behaviour
The former Watford and Wigan boss was in charge of Cardiff for two years from 2011, leading them into the English Premier League, as well as their first League Cup final, where they lost on penalties to Liverpool.
Since 2016 until last November, Mackay was the Scottish FA’s performance director, which was his first job since being sacked by Wigan after just 138 days in April 2015.
His CV, in purely footballing terms at Cardiff, sparkles. By all accounts, he impressed in his last position within Scottish football’s corridors of power at Hampden.
However, John, who first wrote about his beloved County in 2014/15, says frontline management is not really the place for Mackay given the background.
He said: “I fully believe in rehabilitation and giving people a second chance.
“He should have a career, but not as a football manager at a professional club in the Scottish Premiership.
“There is a role in the community, not only at a club like Ross County, but the bigger clubs as well. Managers are role models, even more so than players.
“I wouldn’t begrudge him a coaching role anywhere in the country, but I don’t think he should be a first-team manager at a professional club.
“The nature of his messages were so discriminatory. It just makes me wonder what decisions is he going to make in the future.”
‘No credit in the bank’ for a poor start to season
John continued: “He has got a hard sell to prove he is the right character for the job here. It’s not going to be an easy challenge.
“There’s not going to be credit in the bank for him as there was for previous managers linked to the club. If he gets off to a bad start then the pressure is going to mount quite quickly.”
Fans have made their feelings clear to the club, with Kenny MacLennan, the supporter liaison officer (SLO), voicing concerns over the appointment this morning.
John fully understands that feeling, adding: “Supporters are quite right to show their feelings. And there is a distinction between a fan and a supporter.
✍️ Club News
Ross County can today confirm the appointment of Malky Mackay as the clubs new Manager.
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) May 26, 2021
“A fanatic might blindly accept any decision taken by their club, but most supporters of the club can make a judgement for themselves on what’s right and what’s wrong.
“While I’m sure most people have a degree of sympathy for his situation and the need for him to get on with his career, the majority of supporters won’t grow to like this appointment.”
Similarities between Coyle and Mackay from a technical standpoint
John accepts that Mackay, who is keen to meet fans to discuss their worries, has taken steps to learn, educate and improve over the years.
Yet, he feels that isn’t enough.
He explained: “Credit to him for going through that process and it should be acknowledged that Show Racism the Red Card and Kick It Out campaigns have got his back, however, I still think that’s fine for a career in football, but not as a first-team manager.
“Even from a technical point of view, there were reservations. There are parallels to Owen Coyle’s tenure at Ross County, which didn’t work out well.
“You can look at them both having spells at Wigan Athletic, but of more relevance is that Malky Mackay’s success was almost 10 years ago (at Cardiff City).
“Football has moved on a lot since then. Just as society has in the way it tolerates certain views.
“Owen Coyle found out that the methods he used at the club, even at a supposedly lower level than he was used to managing in, were not up-to-date anymore.”
From a purely managerial skills standpoint, the Staggies’ writer feels too much time has passed for him to be handed the task of progressing County within a top-class top-flight.
He said: “While Malky Mackay was among Scotland’s more promising coaches a decade ago, he has not had a proper managerial role for almost six years and that is a long time to be out.”
County legend and first-team coach Don Cowie, last night linked to the Inverness head coach role, is expected to be part of Mackay’s backroom staff, having been signed by him as a player.
And John added: “I think Don staying will be part of the whole package. That was probably what attracted Roy MacGregor to Malky’s appointment.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that Don sold the club to Malky. I know Don was a player with him at Watford and then was a signing for him at Cardiff City, so they go back a long way.
“I’d fully expect Don to be part of the new coaching set-up.”
The other view
Although the vast majority of fans are against the appointment of Mackay, there are some users on social media who feel he has to be given the opportunity:
Bill Alexander: “He has apologised and demonstrated contrition. People should be allowed to move on.”
Lee: “Good choice in my opinion.”
Tony: “Doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance?”
Regi: “Don’t care as long as he’s putting three points on the board each weekend.”
David Cross: “Everyone does indeed deserve a second chance, but first he needs to acknowledge that his previous conduct was wrong (not just that he regrets it being made public).”
Blair: “Hopefully (chairman) Roy (MacGregor) does the right thing and ignores you all. You didn’t want Yogi (John Hughes) either but were all for Ketts and Ferg (Stuart Kettlewell and Steven Ferguson) to be appointed. Great appointment for me.”