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Working under Malky Mackay has been a learning curve for Ross County assistant manager Don Cowie

By Andrew Henderson

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Don Cowie says that working under Malky Mackay has been an eye-opener into what it takes to be a manager.

Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Ross County(2) v St.Mirren(3). 16.10.21. Ross County manager Malky Mackay and assistant manager Don Cowie.
Picture - Ken Macpherson, Inverness. Ross County(2) v St.Mirren(3). 16.10.21. Ross County manager Malky Mackay and assistant manager Don Cowie.

Since officially retiring in the summer of 2020, Cowie worked as a first team coach under Stuart Kettlewell and John Hughes last season before being promoted to assistant manager when Mackay came to Dingwall in May.

From then on, Cowie feels he has learned plenty about what is needed to run a top flight club – and one of his big takeaways is that things should be kept as simple as possible for the players on Ross County’s books.

“Working under Malky in the last four or five months has made me realise how far away I was from being a manager,” Cowie, who worked with Mackay as a player, said.

“You might not see it, but the little things that he is doing at this club to try and improve things since he came in that I see have been huge.

“People only see what’s happening on the pitch, but in terms of around the stadium and around the training facilities, stuff like that, he wants the best for his players.

“There’s no excuse, we’re a professional team playing in the best league in our country.

“All the players should be worrying about is training and playing in the games. You’ve got all the equipment and all the extras that you need.

“So it just boils down to you individually and the team collectively to go out and perform on the pitch.

“There’s no sideshows, there’s no excuses, and he makes sure players have all that. That’s probably the biggest thing I’ve realised.”

When Mackay was brought to Dingwall, chairman Roy MacGregor and chief executive Steven Ferguson spoke of wanting to overhaul the club and improve things behind the scenes as well as on the pitch – and those processes have begun to take shape at the Global Energy Stadium.

For Cowie, who remembers what the club was like in the Highland League, it is some transformation.

“It is a remarkable story – I’m very fortunate that I’ve seen this club grow massively over 30 years,” he added.

“I used to go and support the team in the Highland League, and travel all over the Highlands, back when we only had one wooden stand here.

“Now, 30 years later we’ve got the training facilities and we’re playing in the Premiership. It’s special. Sometimes I think we forget that.

“It’s an unbelievable achievement from where we’ve come from, and over the last eight or nine years we’ve managed to sustain Premiership football.

“For us to compete, we have to be unique, and I think our uniqueness is how special it is, how close everyone is in the staff.

“I think we need to step back sometimes to properly realise what we are achieving. That’s not to say we feel privileged to be in the Premiership – we deserve to be where we are – but it’s important to stay in the league because it means so much.”

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