Don Cowie rewarded with Ross County job after Staggies survival as Roy MacGregor reveals mistake he made over boss

Don Cowie is set to become permanent manager of Ross County after securing the Staggies’ top flight survival with a play-off victory over Raith Rovers.

The interim boss will sit down with chairman Roy MacGregor to put the finishing touches to a deal that will see him take on the top job 24 years after breaking through as a player in Dingwall. Cowie stepped into the breach after Derek Adams walked in February with Malky Mackay having been sacked three months earlier.

The 40-year-old steadied the ship for the final 17 games, culminating in yesterday’s 4-0 play-off second leg win over Raith Rovers that secured a 6-1 aggregate victory. Cowie revealed he agreed to delay talks with club bosses over becoming the next manager until after safety was secured.

And he said: “What was said was that the chairman saw me as the person to take this club forward. We were aligned in not thinking that needed to be the focus, because we didn’t need any distractions. Our main focus was on keeping this club in the Premiership.

“You have to have a chat and see how things look. The chairman has shown a lot of belief in me, and he has stated that he sees me being the person to take the club forward. At any club you need to have a bigger conversation about how that looks going forward, and we’ll have that.

“I’ve said all along that I want to be a manager, and I felt I was ready three months ago. Since then that belief I have in myself has only strengthened, and this is a club I have a lot of affection for, so I don’t see any issues there.”

Ensuring County don’t end up in the same situation for a third year running will be Cowie’s main focus next season. That begins with a summer rebuild of his squad.

And he said: “We understand the fight that we have every year. We punch above our weight to be in the top league in Scotland, and we embrace that. It’s challenging, so there are times you find yourself in the play-of spot, but we need to improve.

“The more you’re down there, eventually you will fall, and it’s up to me now to make sure that doesn’t happen. We were in a very precarious position when I came in to this role. I needed calmness, and the football club to come together, and ultimately that’s what has happened. The character the players have shown over the last two games makes me really proud.”

Chairman MacGregor admitted he should have handed the reigns to Cowie instead of bringing back Adams when Mackay was axed in November. The Dingwall supremo said: “Don was told before he got the job that it was his no matter what happened.

"He knew when he took over it didn’t matter where we finished, it would be him. But I didn’t want the interruption of speaking to his agent and all that during an important time, so we just left it the way it was.

“I have known him for a long time, since he was nine years old, so to watch his journey, being a local boy, going away to play for Scotland then coming back, it has been fabulous. It has been traumatic off the park and if it has been like that off the park it will be difficult on it.

“The manager did so well to galvanise things and get the place going again. It was difficult for him, I made a mistake because he wanted the job when Malky left but I didn’t think it was fair to put him into that at the time. That was a mistake on my part, I got it wrong. So I am delighted for him. He has a bond with the players, him being a local boy has been important for Ross County."