THERE promise to be more unexpected twists and improbable turns in the scrap for cinch Premiership survival in the next eight days than there were in the bonkers brilliant League One play-off semi-final double header between Sheffield Wednesday and Peterborough.

Ross County increased their chances of remaining in the top flight last weekend with a 3-1 win over Dundee United at Tannadice that saw them move off bottom spot in the table and leapfrog  their opponents.

Yet, the Dingwall club’s match against Motherwell at Fir Park this afternoon will, with on-form striker Kevin van Veen looking to write his name in the record books and score in his ninth consecutive league match, be a tough outing.


As will their encounter with St Johnstone at the Global Energy Stadium on Wednesday night and their final fixture against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park a week tomorrow. Nothing is certain. Anything can, and very probably will, still happen.

But if, and it remains a big if, County do avoid going down this term they will be rewarded for showing faith in Malky Mackay, for refusing to panic and axe the Watford, Cardiff City and Wigan Athletic manager when the going got tough, for standing by their man.

READ MOREWest Ham players confront AZ Alkmaar fans who attacked family stand

The 2022/23 campaign has been disappointing for the Highlanders and no mistake. There have, however, been valid reasons for their difficulties. The loss of Regan Charles-Cook, Joseph Hungbo and Blair Spittal, a trio who between them netted half of their 52 goals last term, last summer has been keenly felt.

Imagine Kyogo Furuhashi, Jota, Liel Abada and Daizen Maeda, who collectively have contributed 67 of the 135 goals that Celtic have registered in all competitions the past 10 months, were to move on from Parkhead after the Scottish Cup final next month. Ange Postecoglou would have his work cut out rebuilding his forward line. But that was pretty much the task that Mackay faced.  

County owner Roy MacGregor, a hugely successful businessman who has heady ambitions for his club and who has certainly not been averse to bulleting the occupant of the dugout in the past if performances and results have fallen below an acceptable standard, has recognised that and stuck with the individual who delivered a top six finish last season.

If County are relegated there could, of course, be repercussions. But fair play to MacGregor for seeing the bigger picture and holding firm. His fellow Premiership chairmen and directors could learn much by following his example.

Far too often, a manager pays the price for wider failings over which he has no control and is sacrificed simply to deflect attention away from corporate incompetence and spare the board from the ire of the hordes.

READ MOREManchester United bidder ‘now the second-richest person in UK’

Aberdeen have certainly not had cause to regret firing Jim Goodwin in January and installing Barry Robson in his place following a dire run. They could seal third place if they beat Hearts at Tynecastle today. Still, the arrival of Angus MacDonald on the final day of the transfer window has done much to address the serious defensive issues which Goodwin had long lamented.


West Ham could still decide to part company with Davie Moyes in the not-too-distant future even if, as now looks more than likely, they stay up in the Premier League this month. The average tenure of somebody in his position in that division is now just two years.

READ MOREThe Premier League pathway for Luton Town and Coventry City

But they have reaped rich rewards from refusing to bow to growing unrest in the stands in recent weeks and get rid of the vastly-experienced Scot.

A 1-0 win over AZ Alkmaar in the second leg of the UEFA Conference League semi-final in the Netherlands on Thursday night saw the London club reach their first European final in 47 years. If they beat Fiorentina in the Eden Arena in Prague on June 7 they will lift only the second major piece of continental silverware in their 127 year history.

Moyes, who took West Ham to sixth and seventh place finishes in 2021 and 2022 respectively, conceded that he could find himself out of work when his team was booed off the park following a humiliating 5-1 reverse at home to Newcastle United last month.

“I’m a big boy”, he said. “I’ve left jobs at other times and if that (the sack) happens then I’ll have to go with that.” But he remained in situ and has since overseen important victories over Fulham, Bournemouth and Manchester United as well as a draw with Arsenal.

There is clearly an appreciation upstairs at the London Stadium of what he has accomplished since being appointed back at the end of 2019 and an acceptance that the £160m which was lavished on new players before this season got underway was perhaps not money very well spent. Such loyalty and accountability are normally in precious short supply when paying punters are voicing their displeasure and the drop is looming.

Chesney Hawkes, a diehard Hammers fan, appeared on The Alan Brazil Breakfast Show on TalkSPORT yesterday morning (Ray Winstone must have slept in) to declare that Moyes was The One and Only. The Glaswegian has struck all the right notes in Europe because he and his paymasters have been singing from the same songsheet.