Ross County title-winning keeper Michael Fraser reckons the Staggies should slice down the number of loanees in future and build a more permanent foundation.
Fraser, who won the Championship in County colours in 2011/12, hopes the club can turn around their fortunes at the foot of the Premiership.
Following a tough start which arrived after a summer affected by Covid and a massive player turnover, Malky Mackay’s team are winless and three points adrift in 12th position ahead of Saturday’s home date with Livingston.
A dozen new arrivals checked into the Global Energy Stadium, with 15, including loanees, leaving in the summer along with manager John Hughes.
Mackay set to work swiftly and rebuilt almost from scratch, with six of the signings being loan players, albeit from major clubs in England.
They are goalkeeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer (from Charlton Athletic), defenders Harry Clarke (Arsenal) and Jake Vokins (Southampton), midfielders Alex Robertson (Manchester City) and Jack Burroughs (Coventry City), and winger Joseph Hungbo (Watford).
Although these players clearly have first-class pedigree, Fraser feels the decision to bring in so many short-term footballers might not be the best way forward.
Loans market not best route – Fraser
The 38-year-old, who also played for ICT, pointed to the double cup-winners St Johnstone as one example of a notable success story built upon stability.
He said: “I am looking more from the outside in these days, but the club have again gone down the loans market route.
“I never think that works too well, apart from on the odd occasion. It can be a quick way of getting players in, but they need to try and get a nucleus of a squad.
“You just need to look at St Johnstone. They lose a player here and there and then bring one or two in, but they’ve got that nucleus. Motherwell and St Mirren go along similar lines.
“Personally, I don’t like bringing in too many loan players and I absolutely don’t say that against the players at Ross County. Malky Mackay clearly knows them better than I do.
“You just need more continuity. When you have such a big overhaul – even those guys coming in on permanent contracts haven’t been there – it’s a fresh start.
“Good teams are built on good foundations, and you add to it as you go along. You don’t start every year.
“Listen, County could well go on to have a good season and we know (chairman) Roy MacGregor will support the manager. I just don’t see the same continuity with County that I see at other clubs they’ll be challenging.
“Everyone always says Livingston are a club with no money, but they too have a nucleus of a squad and, although they’ve lost a lot of players over the years, they’ve added and kept them together.”
Keeper switch harsh on Laidlaw?
The ex-shot stopper, who has returned to his first love of shinty with Glenurquhart, has also been surprised to see last season’s star keeper Ross Laidlaw nudged out of the team since a 3-0 loss to Celtic on September 11 by Maynard-Brewer.
He added: “I didn’t understand Ross Laidlaw coming out of the team. I have been in both sides of that situation.
“It’s difficult when you’re the goalie. You either get a really good run or you might feel the team has been changed for the sake of it.
I know Ross had a tremendous season last year and he got a new contract. He’ll be disappointed, because he’s been one of County’s best players in the last few years.
“Admittedly I don’t know what’s going on in the background, but Ross doesn’t seem to have made any major mistakes. You might make one mistake, are you not allowed that?
“I’ve benefited from that, but it has also gone the other way. It’s no one’s fault and you have to do what you can do to get back involved.”
Ross County in need of winning lift
Now, the Staggies, the only side not to have won yet, are gearing up for a crack at Livingston, who stunned St Johnstone 3-0 in Perth.
Fraser insists it’s vital they end this losing run to avoid being cut adrift by their capable rivals.
He said: “It’s hard when you see other teams around you picking up points.
“The Premiership is so tight this season, at the top and the bottom. I don’t think you’ll even see anyone running away with it at the top.
“St Mirren winning at County made it three wins in a row for them, which is massive in this league. You don’t want to be the only side not picking up wins.
“Other teams, including Livingston and St Mirren, are showing they can pick up wins. You need to be in the mix.
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“Livingston got that win at St Johnstone at the weekend, which was great for them. You are never surprised when they go and turn someone over.
“County are not getting the wins yet. It’s alright getting the odd draw, but, in some ways, you’d be better losing a couple and getting a win or two on board.”