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Derek Adams: Ross County’s favourite son returns back ‘home’ in ‘huge blow’ for Morecambe

Derek Adams suffered relegation last season with Morecambe

He has resurrected their fortunes twice already. Now Ross County hope that the third coming of Derek Adams as manager will steer them clear of troubled waters.

The 48-year-old is the favourite son to whom chairman Roy MacGregor has turned once more following the sacking of Malky Mackay with the Dingwall side second bottom of the Scottish Premiership.

So why have County prised Adams away from his second spell with Morecambe in their latest hour of need?

‘He’s coming back to known territory’

Derek Adams record graphic

The easy answer to why MacGregor has turned to Adams is previous success at the club.

It also appears to have become his spiritual home. Indeed, the County chairman revealed to BBC Scotland that “he’s always had a house here – he’s coming back to known territory”.

Technically, it is the fourth time Glasgow-born Adams has joined County. It was with the Dingwall side – then in Scotland’s fourth tier – where the battling midfielder established himself as a first-team regular in 1997 after coming through the youth ranks with Aberdeen and Burnley.

And it proved to be the launch pad to spells in the top flight with Motherwell, Aberdeen and Livingston, before Adams returned to the Highland club as player-coach in 2006.

Becoming manager the following year, he led them to promotion to the second tier in his first season – and then to their first-ever Scottish Cup final in 2010.

While they lost 3-0 to Dundee United, taking such an unfashionable club to Hampden caught the eye of Hibernian, who appointed Adams assistant to Colin Calderwood that November.

By then, his sometimes fiery demeanour had led to an eye-watering 18-match touchline ban and he cut short his spell at Easter Road to head back up the A9 to Dingwall after only seven months.

Adams carried on where he had left off, leading County to the title, promotion to Scotland’s top flight for the first time and was voted manager of the year for the 2011-12 season.

Although a 40-match unbeaten league run ended in the Premier League, they eventually finished fifth – a point away from European qualification – and a creditable seventh place the following season led to a move to Plymouth Argyle.

‘Great experience’ from England

Although he never rose above League One level, Adams’ time in England was not without it’s successes either.

In his first campaign with Argyle, they reached the League Two play-off final, losing to Wimbledon, but a second-place finish the following season secured promotion and they just missed out on the League One promotion play-offs the year after that.

He was to exit amid the threat of relegation in April 2019, but his magic touch returned as he led Morecambe to a play-off win over Tranmere Rovers to secure promotion to the third tier for the first time in their history.

Not for the first time, as we now know, he was to make a surprise exit from Morecambe, remaining in League Two by switching to Bradford City.

Being sacked eight months later with his side sitting 12th did nothing to dent the self-confidence Adams has displayed so often in his career.

Before being replaced with former Wales and Blackburn Rovers manager Mark Hughes, he declared: “If they are going to get a new manager in they’re not going to get as successful a manager as myself in the door. That’s obvious to everyone.”

Within nine days, Adams was back at Morecambe after Stephen Robinson, who had replaced him, switched to St Mirren.

He managed to keep Morecambe in the third tier but could not repeat the feat last season as they were relegated back to League Two, where he leaves them lying ninth.

Now he thinks he returns to County an even better manager. “I can take great experience from being in England, because it’s not an easy league to manage in,” Adams said.

‘Extension’ of previous Adams spell

Derek Adams with the League Two play-off trophy
Derek Adams led Morecambe to League Two play-off glory at Wembley

BBC Radio Lancashire’s Derek Quinn described Adams’ departure as “a huge blow to the club” as he had “performed something of a football miracle” given the size of Morecambe’s playing budget during his first spell in charge.

Despite his surprise exit to Bradford and failure to avoid relegation on his return, he appears to have remained popular with fans given their financial struggles amid a protracted takeover battle.

While Adams had voiced his frustrations, he had recently spoken of his desire to take the club as high as the Championship.

However, he and MacGregor have revealed he had been hankering for a return to County for some time, with the chairman suggesting the club “had it’s most successful time under Derek” and that “a knowledge and a trust” between the pair promised more good times.

“As a first division club, he took us to the Scottish Cup final, he went away to Hibs to try assistant managership, it didn’t suit him, he came back and took us to the Premier League, so I see this as an extension of what happened nine years ago,” he said.

MacGregor points out that two thirds of the season, and a transfer window, give plenty of time for recovery and former Rangers and Kilmarnock striker Kris Boyd thinks Adams will fancy his chances of doing so.

“He’s not going to take time to get settled,” he told Sky Sports. “He knows the club, he knows the people he’s working with, he’ll know the players.”

Boyd suggested that County have “caused teams problems” despite their poor run.

Adams has now arrived promising “to get players forward into attacking areas as quickly as possible” and his double act with MacGregor could be about to lift the Highland gloom once again.

‘Fantastic’ or ‘lazy’ appointment – fans views

Anon: I think this is a good appointment. Morecambe have games in hand to hit the play-offs and Derek has done a great job there. They play some great football. Ross County have done well to get him back.

Connor: Clearly has a great affinity for the club/area along with historically being quite successful. However, comes across as a lazy, safe appointment from the club. That being said, only thing to do is get behind the team and push for safety.

David: Fantastic appointment. Derek will make us hard to beat and is an excellent tactician. Great appointment for Ross County.

Andy: Why would you appoint the same manager for a third time? He doesn’t have relevant Premiership experience. He hasn’t been involved in the Premiership for many years. This is a relegation battle for County, so surely the fans deserve someone who has recently had this experience. There is a manager available in Callum Davidson who ticks all the required boxes for County.

Chris: I think Derek Adams is the perfect candidate as he knows everything about the club. From the history, club, staff, supporters and the players. It’s his old stomping ground and he’s a kind of manager that has discipline and really pushes players to get the best out of themselves.

Paul: Adams is a notoriously confrontational character. It all depends on how the players react to his managerial style. Personally, I still watch the clip of the time Jamie Hamill flattened him and laugh.

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