0 league wins in the last 10 games is a dismal record for anyone. But for Inverness Caley’s fledgling young manager, Richie Foran, it could prove to be that bit more fatal.
If an experienced ‘been-round-the-block’ manager was on a similarly poor run, he might be justified to claim that this is just a temporary dip and, whilst pointing to previous successes in his career as evidence, could confidently claim that things will get better for his team.
But for a manager like Foran, there can be no assurance that things will get better. He has no track record to present to the baying crowds and no basis to claim that “I have done it before and I will do it again”.
Admittedly, some Caley performances this season have been worthy of praise – most notably the 2-2 draw with Celtic, making them the only side to take points off the runaway league leaders – and Foran did pick up the September Manager of the Month award for an unbeaten run in that time. And luckily for the board, the 36-year-old is very much committed to the job at Tulloch, recently stating that he wants to be the longest serving manager at the club.
However, 3 wins from 21 league matches puts that dream in jeopardy. Even Hamilton Accies, who seem intent on being relegated this season having notched just one league win since August, are managing to stay above the Highland club.
He is clearly passionate and is genuinely concerned about letting the fans down – as he so honestly admitted to in a recent interview – but that can only go so far. Ultimately, Foran’s job security comes down to one thing: trust.
The strength of the board’s trust in Foran has no doubt been tested – even although the official line from the board will still be a positive one. There can be no hiding from the situation that Caley are facing.
What is most concerning is that the current squad has much the same backbone as the triumphant team that famously lifted the Scottish Cup and finished third in the league in 2015. The likes of Josh Meekings, Gary Warren, Ross Draper and Greg Tansey are all still mainstays and there have been few notable departures in the squad.
But maybe that’s part of the issue – the squad isn’t actually that bad. Of course, the team needs freshened up in some areas – but, realistically, it is a side that should be pushing for the top 6, not propping up the league table.
Caley’s signing policy is measured and pragmatic, and so a Ross County-esque, knee-jerk spending spree to counteract the recent poor form would be uncharacteristic. However, the signing of wannabe SPL-journeyman, Henri Anier, is maybe proof that the ICT transfer policy textbook has been thrown out the window in a mad panic with everyone’s knees jerking.
For now, Foran has the board’s support. Without an extra cash injection into the squad, they will have to simply trust Foran’s talent as a coach to prevent them playing in the Championship next season.
That is not to say that Foran can’t turn it around – there have been far more miraculous relegation survival stories in the past – but who’s to say he can?
These are trying times at the Tulloch and it will soon become clear whether Richie Foran has it in him to stop the rot. Caley’s next league match, at home against Partick Thistle in ten days’ time, will be massive.