REACTION: Derek Adams credits simple messaging as Ross County grab vital win against Motherwell
It was Leonardo da Vinci no less who described simplicity as the ultimate sophistication.
While it may be too early to liken Derek Adams’ work at Ross County to that of the great artists, the new manager is clearly painting vivid pictures in his players’ minds.
Three games in, there has been a redrawing of Malky Mackay's tactical gameplan. At the heart of it all, a refusal to over-complicate messages or overload players with too much information, too quickly, is serving the former Morecambe manager well.
Goals from Simon Murray, Yan Dhanda and Ben Purrington took County above Motherwell to eighth in the table, with seven points from nine since Mackay was sacked three weeks ago.
Three clean sheets from three home games is distinct a mark of progress. All evening, County bristled with a confidence that bordered on swagger.
Asked if he was surprised at the speed at which the players were absorbing his ideas, Adams said: “I’m quite straightforward. I don’t complicate things, I give them simple messages each day, each week, and we add layers onto that as we go. The players are certainly taking that on board.
“The defensive aspect is important. Any good side with a defensive solidity gives you the opportunity to go forward and score goals.
“Tonight, defensively, we started from the front with our two strikers helping us defensively. Yan Dhanda, behind them, is becoming a lot better at that as well.
“But the back line and the two in front of them, Scott Allardice and Connor Randall, helped us too. We passed the ball well, were positive, while Ross Laidlaw made a couple of good saves as well.”
Time and again in Scotland’s top-flight, the team that starts best prevails.
“The start we had tonight was outstanding – a great ball in from Jimmy Brown and a tremendous header from Simon Murray to get us off and running.
“Yan scores an outstanding goal as well, before Ben Purrington gets one in the second half.
“We hit the post, created a number of good opportunities, were clinical, and defended well when we had to. It was another good performance from us.
“We’ve got to keep pushing on and aim to catch the teams above us.
“We’ve made ground tonight and gone above Motherwell. We’ve cut the gap between us and the top teams as well.
“The confidence is there – we played on the front foot – and I thought defensively we were good.
“We stepped forward with the ball and created some really good movements in the game.
“We were unfortunate not to score more.”
Within minutes of this match starting, County had stamped their mark all over Stuart Kettlewell’s Motherwell.
Murray struck with his 11th goal of the season, a backward header from a James Brown corner, two minutes in.
Yan Dhanda then produced his own little flourish of creativity for the second, deftly controlling a Jack Baldwin ball forward and flashing away from his marker. The curved strike from 20 yards was a goal of the season contender.
One one occasions, four passes fizzed in rapid-fire succession, as Randall, Murray and Dhanda linked, only for the former to stub his shot straight at Scotland keeper Liam Kelly.
Then, 11 minutes after the break, Ben Purrington killed the contest. Dhanda’s cross was headed goalward by Jordan White but parried by Kelly.
Purrington strode in to apply the finish, only for a VAR delay before an offside flag decision was overturned.
Many challenges lie ahead for County this season but a crowd of almost 3000 left feeling they had their money’s worth of entertainment.
It was tough to see the obvious upset of former County hero Stuart Kettlewell after a 12th game without victory, but the Motherwell manager was typically honest in his assessment.
“Quite simply it was one of the worst games for me. I won't sugarcoat it,” Kettlewell said.
"The level of performance and the start to the game, and the 90 minutes, was so far removed from where it needs to be to be competitive in this league.
"It's tough watching guys who have done so well for us for a long stretch then seeing how far they've fallen.
“You need players to be aggressive in there and we don't have that right now.
“It was the 11th time we’ve lost the first goal in 12 games and that's having a major dent in us psychologically.
“We are bereft of confidence.
"So much of it becomes that mentality, a little bit of fear coming in and people maybe not looking for the ball. You have to have belief in yourself.
“For the fans, it’s an apology.
“Everyone knows how difficult that road can be and how far away it is.
“And there's a bit of shame in that when you see people travelling up here and that's the level they get.
“I feel very, very sorry for the supporters that came here because, having seen it, the better decision would be to stay in the house.”