The game is gone. Derek Adams is already looking ahead. "It is perhaps the best thing I have learned in management. I move on to the next game quickly. You can do nothing about what is past but you can plan for the future," says the manager of Ross County.
It is a sentiment that chimes with the times. The last match for Adams was a victory over Celtic. The next challenge is one that is consuming newsprint and gently inveigling its way into the football consciousness. The unavoidable query is: what does Adams do next?
The simple answer after the victory over the champions was to head for Easter Road. On Sunday, the Ross County manager and his sister had a typical Adams day out. They sat in the main stand to watch Hibernian against Hearts. It was noticeable that Adams was in his place well before kick-off, watching the players warm up. The dilettantes were in the hospitality suite, the coming man was meeting a scything Edinburgh wind with an impassive expression.
At 37, Adams can look ahead with confidence and some expectation. He is a coach with a considerable future. He was manager of the season in Scotland last year and is a leading contender for a double as minds now turn to the award for this season.
He improves teams and he does this on a tight budget. The league states that Ross County are the third best team in the country. The ledger books note that they are the 13th best payers, behind all the Clydesdale Bank Premier League clubs and Rangers. This is the kind of Moneyball that attracts suitors.
Adams is too intelligent to be drawn into the specifics of any future move. He is happy at Ross County. "It would be very hard to find a situation with facilities and support to match what I have now," he says. "This is an exceptional club."
He has been offered jobs in England and Scotland "through third parties" but will not be drawn further other than to say: "They were not for me." The media wind whispers Aberdeen, but Adams remains adamant that he can take County further. It is almost absurd but the Dingwall side are making a tilt at a place in Europe.
It is a club with has a strong dynamic at its heart. Roy McGregor, the chairman, has forged a relationship with Adams and there is also the director of football, a certain Mr George Adams. The manager never refers to his father by name during the interview, always preferring the term: director of football. But both have united to take Ross County from the depths of Scottish football to the very heights. "We have no right to be where we are," says Adams, but one suspects he is not overly surprised.
This is a character who dreamed of becoming a manager in the way other boys wanted to be an astronaut. "I was seven or eight and went about Aberdeen with my dad and watched Fergie and Archie Knox playing headie tennis," he says. "I loved seeing that will to win."
It is a drive that he shares. He talks of knowing he wanted to be a manager by "the age of 22, 23, maybe earlier". He has devoted his life to the sport.
Ask him about his outside interests and he replies after a pause: "I like going to the cinema on a Saturday night." Presumably after that phone call to the scout. He then admits that he enjoys the odd visit to a restaurant. The rest, it seems, is football. "I watch it a lot. I read about it, mostly foreign stuff on the internet. I like to listen to managers and I like watching other coaches do training," he says.
Famously, Adams is a Christian but he prefers not to discuss it further, saying: "I do not believe a football discussion is the right place to talk about it."
He is open and considered, though, on his ethos as a manager. "Basically, I believe in hard work but I also look for players who have a point to prove," he says. Ivan Sproule, one of several January signings, is a prime example.
County source their players from three areas: those who have worked with the manager in the past, those who have been identified by him and the director of football on scouting missions, and those who have been spotted by watching European action on dvds.
Adams insists with reason he has "players of high technical ability" at the club but they also share the manager's insatiable desire. "I always thought I made the most of my playing career. I got the best I could out of my ability," he says of his employment at Aberdeen, Ross County, Burnley and Motherwell and others.
His managerial career has been more straightforward, the trajectory steep. He started at County in 2007, leading the side to a Challenge Cup victory and a Scottish Cup final, defeating Celtic in a semi-final. He then left the club for his first and only coaching job outside Dingwall, joining Hibernian for a season as assistant to Colin Calderwood. This experience was an eye-opener. "I just could not believe the standard of the passing drills. I worked on that immediately," he says.
This attention to detail, this desire to improve every area of the club, was a source of frustration for the coach. "It is difficult when you are not the manager," is all he will say to a suggestion that change is hard to effect.
He came back to County and took them to the first division championship and on a run of 40 unbeaten matches that ended in September against St Johnstone. It is a record only eclipsed by Willie Maley's Celtic in the First World War years. It showed, too, that Adams and his players were not cowed by playing in a bigger division. "We do not have a superstar," says Adams "but we have the desire and we have good players."
There is no doubt they have a good manager, too, and one who wants to become better. The only question is where he will do it.
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