Coll Donaldson reckons Ross County’s successful survival battle will stand them in good stead to progress this season in the Premiership.
The 26-year-old defender explained that he personally didn’t feel fazed when the side needed a hat-trick of wins to stay up under John Hughes at the end of a roller-coaster term where County got ahead of Hamilton and Kilmarnock.
Donaldson and his Staggies mates handled the heat, but speaking ahead of Saturday’s league opener with St Johnstone, he said: “We finished off great. I think at that point, it was a bizarre feeling.
“I can only speak personally, but it felt like we were playing without any sort of pressure in those last three games when there should have been even more pressure on us.
“We just said ‘let’s go for it, we need to win’. Killie finished the season strongly as well, so we had to win those three games. We played really well and it showed that those performances were inside us and it was all about getting that out.
“We’ll take positives from those games. We don’t want to be seen by others as a team that will be there for getting three points. The manager wants us to be as competitive as we can be in every game.”
Manager’s words matter most
The ex-Dundee United and Caley Jags defender rolls with the punches when criticism comes his way as a professional player.
However, he said experience has taught him to listen mostly to the manager for guidance and to keep improving.
He said: “I have had criticism throughout my career, in terms of from fans or press. You just need to focus on the opinions of those who matter. I’m not saying those opinions don’t matter, but you really need to listen to the coaching staff and especially your manager.
“It’s not like the press say the defence isn’t playing well and the manager is saying we are playing well.
“He is telling us as well, so we’re best to ignore the press and listen to the manager as he’s going to give you pointers and tell you how to change that.
“That’s something I have learned and I didn’t appreciate that when I was younger.”
Fresh style from Mackay
Donaldson likes the way Mackay is urging them to keep the focus on playing with style and in an eye-catching manner.
He added: “Every manager has their own ideas and the manager has his own ideas of us playing an attractive style of football.
“He’s very demanding in terms of our possession drills in training and about keeping and looking after the ball. He’s been great and we’re really enjoying his work during this opening month or so.”
Saints are pals – except on Saturday
And he’s looking forward to seeing his former Inverness team-mates Shaun Rooney and Jamie McCart.
Rooney, who scored in both cup finals last season for the Saints, is a star in Perth, but Donaldson want to bring his pals down to earth by tea-time.
He said: “They have done alright, haven’t they? Especially big Rooney with the two cup final goals. I spoke to him and he never played until January and now he’s a club legend with all sorts of rumours of him going elsewhere.
“I’m delighted for both of them and I get on with them. We built up a friendship and Rooney went through a bit of a personal struggle while at Inverness but he has gone on from that and done really well. I am happy for them, but hopefully they get beat on Saturday.”