Ross County manager Malky Mackay believes the Staggies’ younger players must show old heads in a bid to climb the Premiership table.
County return from the international break on Saturday when they host St Mirren, with the Dingwall outfit still searching for their first league win of the season.
During the two-week gap between games, Mackay broke up his squad into position-focused sessions which were aided by video analysis from the campaign so far.
Mackay feels training in smaller groups has sharpened his players’ tactical thought-process, which he hopes they can carry into a matchday situation.
— Ross County FC (@RossCounty) October 7, 2021
He said: “I think our debriefs are going in a good direction now in terms of getting them to open up and constructively criticise each other. That is where it should get to.
“When you break them down into smaller units, you show them the work defence, midfield and attack should be doing and there are six or seven of them in each one. You get much more out of them because it’s a smaller group.
“A lot of the stuff there is as worthy as it is out on the pitch. You take lots of other sports where, if you can educate the mind, eventually it shows.
“Like anything, when you talk about older pros who understand and read the game, if you fast forward that into younger players you can get them thinking in a certain way about the game.
“Rather than it just being reactionary where they turn up and play, you educate them and drill down into the depths of tactically how the game is played, where they should be on the pitch and how they can cause teams problems.
“That’s when you start to have players who can really manage the game better. If you can get that into a young player it’s a big thing.”
Too early to judge County’s league position
County have taken just three points from their opening eight matches, with only goal difference keeping them above bottom-placed Dundee.
Mackay says league positions will not concern him until later in the campaign, adding: “We would obviously like more points than we’ve got at the moment.
“We knew it was going to be a tough start, but I don’t look at the outcome just now concerning where we are going to finish in May.
“I have always been one to focus on the process of what you actually do day-to-day, and week-to-week. I look at performances over a period.
“Eventually the outcome takes care of itself. If you ask anyone at any elite level, they will tell you the same.”
Despite a league win eluding County so far Mackay has been encouraged by the way his much-changed squad is gelling, having added 12 new faces in the summer.
He added: “Over the eight games and who we have played, there have probably been two halves of football I have been disappointed in.
“In the rest of them I’ve been really proud of the way the team are coming together.
“I think I’m looking at a team that are growing into their skin and beginning to know each other.
“The squad are now in and settled down, free of Covid and serious injury.
“I want more points, but I’ve got a certain belief that if they keep performing the way they are performing over the piece, we will win more than we will lose.”