Richie Foran: Inverness CT manager faces key weeks in hot-seat

Richie Foran
Richie Foran signed a four-year deal to take over as Inverness manager last summer

Inverness Caledonian Thistle's Premiership trip to face Motherwell on Saturday is critical in their quest to escape relegation.

It may also prove crucial for Richie Foran's future as manager with his position under increasing scrutiny in and outside the club.

Defeat may not be fatal as they could remain four points adrift of 11th place, should Hamilton Academical lose at Dundee and slip below Well.

However, with five post-split games to come and just four league wins all season, recovery would seem a tall order.

The Highlanders cannot keep relying on others to retain hope.

Just one victory in 21 league matches is a horrible statistic. It's a win ratio of less than 5%. That measure alone understandably raises questions about the manager's position as well as player performance.

So where has it gone wrong?

Recruitment

At his introduction to the media as manager last May, Foran said: "For me, management is all about recruitment. It's the most important aspect of my job."

He may not have the resources of others but the board can legitimately argue they have backed him. Over an entire starting XI has arrived since his appointment.

Kevin McNaughton was an early long-term casualty with injury but few of the other signings stand out.

Graeme Shinnie and Kevin McNaughton
McNaughton (right) returned to action in April after almost seven months out

The arrival of Billy Mckay, back on loan from Wigan, did look like a solution but the Northern Irish striker has not made much of an impression other than a dramatic winner against Rangers - their last victory.

Service to him has been a clear issue.

Delivering exciting, attacking football was a priority but players such as Jake Mulraney, Larnell Cole and Billy King have not produced consistently in achieving that goal.

Another long-term injury to Aaron Doran has not helped matters.

Now, it's solely about results and some of Foran's recruits have to step up. To this point, the majority have not.

Experience

Foran had been earmarked for this position for some time given his contribution around the club over the years.

The board were convinced the former skipper had the qualities to lead and step out of the dressing room smoothly.

That transition appears to have been harder than anticipated.

He was awarded a four-year deal, with certain clauses, which seemed a tremendous show of faith in an untried manager.

He inherited assistant Brian Rice, who is contracted until the end of this season. Rice is very experienced; a well thought of coach, but the dynamic does not appear to have worked.

Foran is a man of conviction and belief. Perhaps having someone of his choosing alongside him might have helped balance his lack of experience.

Richie Foran and Brian Rice
Foran and Rice face a crucial few weeks to keep Inverness in the Premiership

Defence

Clean sheets have been very hard to come by with only one since their most impressive league result, a 3-0 win over Motherwell in October.

Inverness have conceded in all but two league games and have lost the first goal 23 times - 23 games they have not won.

Statistics can be misrepresentative, but not those.

The loss of Josh Meekings to long-term injury has been significant. He formed a very successful centre-half partnership with Gary Warren under Foran's predecessor John Hughes.

Caley Thistle have drawn 13 times this season and earned creditable points against Celtic, Aberdeen and Hearts. On their day, they are capable of being robust. Their day has not arrived nearly enough and has been undermined by conceding cheap goals.

Opportunity?

Inverness celebrate
Inverness won on their last trip to Fir Park

As Foran stated following last Saturday's 3-0 defeat by St Johnstone, one win can change things.

They are still in this fight and are, by Foran's admission, fortunate to be so.

Saturday is paramount. Defeat might prove decisive but victory would deliver a significant shot in the arm that might spark a revival.

The pressure would sharply turn to sides above them. It may galvanise his squad and the support for one last push.

The Inverness board tends to be patient with managers. There's a lot at stake for the club and the manager. It's recoverable but chances are running out.

If Foran is to successfully negotiate his way to safety, it may be the making of him and allow the club to build for the longer term.

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