Stuart Bathgate: Ambitious Adams’ Hibs exit fully vindicated

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DEREK Adams has never looked like a man racked by self-doubt. But if he ever did worry whether he had done the right thing by returning to Ross County from Hibernian, he must now be certain he did.

With the First Division title all but in the bag and a long unbeaten league run still going on, the Dingwall side are not only poised to claim promotion. They also appear well equipped to put up a good fight to stay in the SPL. Their rivals may at times have complained about the amount of money they have been able to put into the campaign, but while those funds helped, they were by no means decisive. Sporting history is littered with examples of clubs who squandered large sums and found only failure. Human resources, not financial, have been the crucial element in Ross County’s rise to the top.

Hibs’ interest in Adams was understandable – the season before they recruited him, Ross County had beaten them and Celtic on the way to the Scottish Cup final. What was not so understandable was the set-up in which they installed him, and presumably expected him to continue his development as a young coach of considerable promise.

Adams was taken to Easter Road in November 2010 as assistant manager to Colin Calderwood, who had been appointed a few weeks earlier. It always looked like a muddled marriage of inconvenience; a bit of bet-hedging by the Hibs board. If Calderwood did not work out, the thinking seemed to be, then Adams would be there to step in, having served his apprenticeship. To be fair, it was a well-intentioned move at a club which was in some need of continuity after parting company with four managers in as many years. But for whatever reason it was not to last, and six months later Adams returned to Dingwall.

It was a brave move, one which led some to infer that Adams lacked ambition. Both the manager and Ross County have since proved that inference wrong, and their impending promotion to the SPL is richly deserved.