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Malky Mackay wants opposition teams to know they are in for a tough afternoon when they face Ross County

The Staggies are riding high in the top half of the Premiership - and a victory at Pittodrie this Sunday will keep them there.

Ross County manager Malky Mackay would love his team to remain in the top six by winning at Aberdeen on Sunday. Image: SNS Group
Ross County manager Malky Mackay. Image: SNS.

Malky Mackay is sure Ross County’s rivals know they will never be easy opponents.

The Staggies manager is relishing the chance to visit 11th-placed and winless Aberdeen in the Premiership on Sunday afternoon, with his own team sitting in sixth position after the first five games. 

Had they not conceded a leveller to Livingston in last week’s 1-1 home draw, they would be joint fourth with Rangers and only the Old Firm have beaten County so far this term.

Striker Simon Murray has been the club’s star performer with nine goals so far this season.

It’s a big week for County, who also host Aberdeen on Wednesday, in the Viaplay Cup quarter-finals. 

However, with St Mirren second and Motherwell third, ahead of Rangers and Hearts, Mackay is delighted that his team are amid the strongest starters.

He said: “Motherwell and St Mirren have started so well, while two of the big city clubs,  Aberdeen and Hibernian, haven’t started well.

“I look at sizes of squads and runs of games, because teams have found that in the past, they can get four wins on the bounce and be sitting third.

“At Ross County, we’ve got to concentrate on picking up points and show a consistency in how we play.

“We have to keep creating chances and make sure that everyone out there in a blue jersey runs hard for the team.

“From day one, I wanted us to be a team that people can’t think ‘good, we’re playing Ross County this week’ about.

“To an extent we’ve done that, but I want that to continue so that when we play teams, they know they’re in a game.”

County looking ever-more consistent

County won their Viaplay Cup section and came through a testing second-round tie at Championship hosts Airdrieonians to secure their midweek shot at Aberdeen.

They have taken that into their league campaign, with wins over St Johnstone and Kilmarnock adding to the draw against the Lions last week.

Mackay said: “The momentum we had in the League Cup helped.

“We had Celtic and Rangers within the first few weeks of the league, so it was a tough start, but we gave a good account of ourselves against both teams to an extent.

“We then had tough games against over rivals, so to speak, in Killie, St Johnstone and Livingston. No quarter was asked or given in those games.

“We look like a team with more consistency about us.”

Recruitment improvement paying off

Ten players joined County over the past few months, including defenders James Brown from Blackburn Rovers and Ryan Leak from Salford City, midfielders Max Sheaf from Redditch United and Scott High on loan from Huddersfield Town, and St Mirren attacker Eamonn Brophy, who was on loan last term.

And the Dingwall club’s manager feels a change in approach when it came to recruitment this summer is already bearing fruit.

He added: “The work laid down and that Roy invested in is starting to show. By that I mean a recruitment department led by Enda Barron and having a couple of people out there looking at players over a longer period, to try and bring them in, rather than being reactionary.

“As time has gone on, we have managed to work that better and that is hopefully going to be set in place at the club for years to come.

“You hopefully bring the percentage chance of a player not settling or working out down. That’s one of the reasons the settling-in process has improved.

Ross County’s Ryan Leak joined the club this summer from Salford City. Image: SNS Group

“We also have (club secretary) Fiona MacBean here, who has got a really great handling process for people coming into the area.

“When someone decants from another part of the country, you want to get them settled in quickly.

“There are many little factors which have allowed players to come in and settle quicker.”