Ross County manager Malky Mackay remains confident his side can stay in the Premiership – insisting one dreadful day does not make them a bad team.
The Staggies were thrashed 6-1 by Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday and the heavy defeat was compounded by the news their rivals at the bottom of the division won their respective matches.
Dundee United’s 2-0 win against Livingston and Kilmarnock’s 2-0 win at St Mirren leave County four points adrift at the foot of the table with five games remaining.
County have it all to do in their post-split fixtures, but Mackay remains defiant.
He said: “There wasn’t too much said at the end of the game. It is not an easy time to look at the bigger picture, but I reminded the players they have performed well recently and it was a bad day for us.
“We’ve got big games coming up against five other teams (in the bottom half) and we have to make sure we go into them with belief.
“One day like this does not make us a bad team.”
Strong response needed
The Staggies boss believes Saturday’s performance was a rarity in his club’s season and pointed to the reaction to their previous heavy loss – a 5-0 home defeat by Motherwell in October – as cause for optimism.
County bounced back from the loss to the Steelmen by taking 10 points from the following six matches and Mackay is looking for another big reaction in the last five games.
He said: “I talk about evidence-based and we were really off it on Saturday, but we were excellent against Aberdeen, beat St Johnstone at McDiarmid Park and ran Celtic really close before that.
“We had a really bad day and undoubtedly we have to fix it.
“But I know what we’re capable of and if we give the performances I know we’re capable of in the last five games, we’ll be okay.
“We’ve played three of those five teams and beaten them in the last six weeks, so we can put this result to bed and move on.”
County must put capital capitulation to bed
Defeat in the capital was painful for County, but the hurt is one the Staggies boss is determined not to dwell on.
He said: “We’ll analyse this, but really we have to put this to bed and get back on it.
“It’s only happened a couple of times this season and we’ve got to get ourselves ready for the last five games.
“It can happen when you play the Old Firm in a game and lose a lot of goals. You try to put it to bed and get on with the next game.
“We’ve been lucky not to have that happen to us too often this season.
“I’ve been a manager for 15 years and I see these players every day.
“We’ve got a break which is probably a good thing, and we’ll spend it making sure we get everyone ready for the last five games.”