Inverness Caledonian Thistle interim manager McCann plotting ways to get better of former boss in Highland derby
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Neil McCann developed an admiration for John Hughes and his managerial style during a thrilling career swansong at Falkirk.
The Bairns stormed through to a Scottish Cup final against Rangers in 2008/09 and, with a dash more luck, might even have won it.
But the temporary Caley Thistle manager insists all bonds of friendship will go out of the window tonight as Highland derby battle lines are drawn.
McCann set about studying County’s recent games in fine detail this week as his squad took hard-earned time off – and is convinced the Inverness side can get the better of Hughes’ men.
County, as pre-match favourites, will certainly face a team thoroughly versed in their strengths and flaws.
“We’ve had a few phone calls, John and I, since I’ve been up at Inverness,” the former Rangers and Hearts winger said. “I loved working under him for that season at Falkirk. He was brilliant to play for.
“Him and Brian Rice were a superb coaching team and we got to the Scottish Cup final. That’s the only one of my six I lost and, arguably, we should have won it that day, but for a lucky Nacho Novo schlaff from a throw-in.
“I’ve got a lot of affection for John in terms of how he was with me as a manager as an older player, but there will be no allegiance and no thoughts for him or his side tomorrow night.
“I’m just interested in beating them.”
To that end, McCann poured through hours of video tape while his players enjoyed time off after facing nine matches in a month.
“The players might have had three days off but I didn’t,” he said. “I’ve watched I don’t know how many of Ross County’s games and I’ve watched them a number of times through.
“I’ve taken every piece of information we might use and passed it on to the players. We know all about them, their strengths and weaknesses.”
McCann may have been entertaining a spot of April Foolery yesterday when he suggested goalkeeper Mark Ridgers, poised for his 150th club bow, might not play.
“I remember Mark as a good, young keeper a long time ago at Hearts, but goalkeepers seem to become better with age,” he said.
“Mark has certainly become a better keeper and playing 150 games for a football club should be really respected. He is a leader.
“But Cammy Mackay helped us through the last round against Buckie, so I have a decision to make before Mark hits 150.”