He's the youngest in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League and in some ways the most unusual. It was only a matter of time before Derek Adams was given the chance to take charge of a top-flight club. The real story is the fact he got there without having to leave Ross County.
Adams being voted the PFA Scotland manager of the year last season was interesting given that he rubbed a few of his peers up the wrong way as County turned the first division into a procession. Adams is Christian, teetotal and non-swearing. He just about rolls his eyes when all of that is brought up for the umpteenth time but it does make him unusual in football. Some may be foolish enough to interpret them as the characteristics of a soft touch. He is anything but that. He openly admits to having a temper and his disciplinary problems with the SFA led to enormous suspensions and once prompted him to appoint the late Paul McBride QC to fight his corner.
All of that is mere baggage. The really important aspects of Adams' personality are another matter entirely: focus, drive, discipline and routine. His influences were Sir Alex Ferguson – as a schoolboy he hung around Pittodrie in the early 1980s when his father, George, was on Aberdeen's backroom staff – Willie Miller, Alex Smith, Eric Black and Billy Davies. All of them contributed to the steely, intense young man who, with George as his director of football, has hauled County to the point that they will play their historic first top-flight match at home to Motherwell today.
"Organisation. Work ethic. Looking after your football club. A good team spirit. Identifying talent. Those are the main things," he said. "I'm quite rigid in the way we work. I always believe a player needs a structure. If they have a structure and they know what's going to happen then they perform better.
"Whether it's the captain or the best player, they all get treated the same. Pre-season they're all out running on the track and they can't get away with things. You always get players who have 'a wee hamstring' so they can't do the extra run in the afternoon. Well, I'm sorry, but they'll have to do the run the next day or the day after. They always have to catch up.
"I do have a temper, yes, I do lose the plot now and again. That's just been my upbringing. I was quite hot-headed as a youngster in my career and I don't think I'm going to change now, although I'm probably a wee bit mellower now although I'm only 37. But that's something that you still have to have. You have to be driven, but you have to be controlled."
Control also applies to what he gives away. His religion isn't an issue he feels a need to discuss, and nor does he see much relevance in the fact he doesn't take a drink or swear. Sir Matt Busby never cursed either so it won't do him any harm. "I don't speak about it really. It's just about trying to be better as a person. I just try to drive people on. In any other business you don't get away with swearing at your colleagues or your workforce. I don't think it's much different. I just try to structure and care for them. I try to make each one a better person and a better player."
He has made County a better club. Second division champions in his first campaign, then eighth, fifth and champions in his three full seasons in the first divison. Before a brief spell as assistant to Colin Calderwood at Hibernian – a bad choice, he missed being his own man – he also knocked Celtic out of the Scottish Cup en route to the 2010 final. The progress has been constant.
County's transformation has been staggering. Traditionally they weren't even one of the most successful Highland League clubs and only a couple of hundred turned up at ramshackle Victoria Park. Now it's the trim, 6300-capacity all-seater Global Energy Stadium with an expected home support of around 3500 per game. "The change has been dramatic," said Adams. "We used to change in a dingy wee place and eat in a cupboard, so to speak. Now it's a professionally-run outfit. The other clubs will probably look at us as an easy touch. You don't get as much respect as a Premier League team at this point. That's natural. You're seen as having come from a division below and until you've stayed in the Premier League then you'll not get that respect.
"I think maybe being the Ross County manager has probably held me back a wee bit because it's 'a wee club up in the Highlands'. People don't actually realise what the football club is all about. That just makes it all the better because of how far we have been able to come. If I was at another club I would probably have moved a wee bit quicker or someone would maybe have taken an interest a wee bit quicker. One day I'll move on from Ross County. Someone else will come in and I'll go somewhere else. You never know when that's going to be. There's always going to be a phone call for everyone."
No-one could blame County if they cut all the lines and confiscated his mobile.
Contextual targeting label: