Jim McIntyre watched Mixu Paatelainen lose his job as Dundee United lost their fight against relegation – and admits the same thing could have happened to him.
The Ross County boss, who scooped the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Manager of the Year award, was in a similarly precarious position last season after taking over at the bottom-placed Dingwall club in September 2014 with the task of avoiding the drop against all the odds. McIntyre hasn’t looked back since, having led County to their first-ever major piece of silverware courtesy of March’s dramatic League Cup triumph over Hibs at Hampden, but he’ll never forget the pressure he was under on being appointed manager of the Highlands club.
McIntyre said: “Staying up last season gave us the platform to do what we’ve just done. So the job was two-pronged if you like.
“Firstly, we must stay up in order to take things a step forward and that’s what we did.
“You only need to look at Dundee United this season to see that they didn’t manage to stay up and the manager lost his job.
“That could quite easily have been me. The margins are so fine and it’s important you remember that.
“So the challenge next season is to be more consistent.
“I spoke at the the start of the season about St Johnstone. They are about the same size of club as us and we should be trying to emulate them.”
McIntyre rates County’s minor miracle of achieving survival the season before almost as highly as their recent cup success. He said: “I think people rightly so had us written off when I first came in with regards to staying up because there wasn’t that immediate impact.
“These awards are awarded for winning things, whereas last season I felt the biggest success I had as a manager was keeping Ross County up considering where we where when we took over and the squad we had when we took over.
“There was a lot of toil and graft and it was a long time coming getting things to click.
“Would I put it ahead of winning a major cup? No, I wouldn’t.
“For me, it was still a huge achievement but I think winning a cup with a club like Ross County and the teams we beat on the way to the final made it a very special cup run.”