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Five key quotes that shaped Derek Adams’ third Ross County spell

Adams departed on Wednesday, just 80 days after replacing Malky Mackay at Victoria Park.

Derek Adams is unveiled as Ross County manager in November 2023. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.
Derek Adams is unveiled as Ross County manager in November 2023. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.

Derek Adams’ Ross County homecoming was warmly welcomed by Staggies supporters – but it was all over after 80 days.

Adams was brought back to Dingwall for a third spell in November, when he left Morecambe to replace Malky Mackay at a time when the Staggies sat second bottom of the Premiership.

Despite a promising start which saw seven points claimed from a possible nine, Adams leaves County in exactly the same position after stepping down earlier this week.

Ross County boss Derek Adams. Image: SNS

County have failed to win any of their last nine matches in all competitions, during which time they have claimed just two league points.

Adams’ latest reign at Dingwall will not be remembered fondly – but it will certainly be remembered.

We chart the five key stages of his tenure in Adams’ own words.

Lofty ambitions on returning to Ross County

Having led County to such highs in his two previous stints, Adams went on to enjoy success in English football. Returning to the Highlands a vastly more experienced manager, and with an understanding of the club, it seemed a match made in heaven.

He said: “I always knew that one day I would come back to the football club.

Derek Adams, along with chief executive Steven Ferguson and chairman Roy MacGregor. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson.

“Knowing you are going to come back to the football club, and getting the opportunity to come back are two different things, and I’m grateful to them for giving me this opportunity to manage this club again in the Premiership.

“I think about trying to move the football club forward. Can we finish as a top-six team on a regular basis? Yes, that’s difficult – we understand that. There are only a few times in its history it has done that.

“Can we possibly get to European football? That’s something we have got to strive for. Ross County as a football club never thought it was going to get out of the Highland League, never mind get into the Premiership.”

‘What a job I’ve got on here’

Right from the outset, Adams maintained he needed time to assess his squad. His first setback came in a 2-0 defeat to St Mirren on December 9, after which he accepted his side was second best without much fuss.

Just seven days later though, following a late defeat to Dundee, it became patently clear Adams’ judgment on his squad – and the standard of Scottish football – had been formed.

Derek Adams during his Ross County’s defeat to Dundee. Image: SNS

He said: “The standard since I’ve come back to this country is shocking.

“We’ve got to have a better product.

“If I’m a paying customer, I don’t come to watch this football match.

“The standard has got to be a lot better. The way we pass the ball, create chances, it has to be better – and that’s for both sides.

“Ross County football club has to be better.

“I’ve seen some good play, but over the afternoon I’m standing on the touchline thinking ‘what a job you have got on here.’

“I’ve left a club [Morecambe] that is 100 times better and we had the lowest budget in League Two.

“I just see some of the things that happened and think – ‘seriously?’

“It is so disappointing. I’m so annoyed, just at the way the game is.

“Even the opposition. You want someone to show up and produce some entertainment. I’m not seeing anything. I don’t see any entertainment.

“If this is the best we’ve got in the country, what are we going to do?”

A bigger job than Adams first thought

County were given a rude awakening on their return from the winter break, as they slumped to a 3-0 defeat at home to Championship side Partick Thistle in the Scottish Cup.

After the match, Adams hinted he had not done enough due diligence on the task he would be presented with upon taking the job.

Derek Adams during the 3-0 defeat to Partick Thistle. Image: SNS

He said: “When you go into a job, you have an idea of what you’ve got to do. But when you delve further into things, it becomes even bigger. That’s the difficulty when sometimes you don’t do enough homework on it.

“I look at it, and think we’ve got players in this squad who should be doing a lot better.

“If you look at what the budget is, and what the team has spent, we should be doing a lot better than we are.

“At this moment in time there is no consistency to the performances. The players have all had opportunities, nobody can say they haven’t had an opportunity.

“That’s not just this season, last season as well.

“There are a lot of things that need to be improved.”

January rebuild was on the cards

Early on in his short tenure, Adams stated his preference for players to be signed on short-term contracts. His January signings reflected that, with all seven arrivals brought in on deals until the summer – six on loan.

Towards the end of the window, Adams hinted the length of contracts he inherited was curtailing the extent of his rebuilding plans.

He said: “People will say: ‘why is this manager signing loan deals?’

Derek Adams. Image: SNS

“The plain and simple thing is we have seven players on two-and-a-half year contracts and 16 players on one-and-a-half year contracts.

“If I take in seven players on permanent contracts, it works out that we have got 23 players signed up for next season. We’ve got no scope to move.

“These are the kind of things I’m trying to not talk about, but I’m trying to explain the issues in it as well.”

End of the road in sight

County suffered a bruising 5-0 loss against Motherwell on Tuesday, which left them five points adrift in the relegation play-off spot – albeit six points clear of bottom side Livingston.

After the game, Adams all but confirmed his time in Dingwall was coming to an end. His departure was confirmed 24 hours later.

Ross County boss Derek Adams watches on as his team crash to a 5-0 loss at Motherwell on Tuesday night. Image: SNS.
Derek Adams watches on as Ross County crash to a 5-0 loss at Motherwell. Image: SNS.

He said: “Maybe give me a bit of time to think things through, because I’ve got to look at the bigger picture here, not just for myself, but for Ross County football club as well.

“It is in a difficult position. It was in a difficult position when I went in and it still is now.

“Listen, I will have a conversation with the chairman and CEO and go from there.

“From my point of view, I’ve tried to come in and help the situation. It’s a difficult situation this football club is in. I said that many weeks ago.

“I was open-eyed, I was honest. I looked at it and all I can say is I’m not surprised.

“That’s difficult for me to say because Ross County football club is a fabulous football club, but at this moment in time it’s in a really difficult circumstance.”