the tanner ba'

Is Erik Čikoš next on the list? Or is it Nejc Mevlja?

Erik Čikoš

Erik Čikoš

At this time last year- almost to the day!- I marveled at the way that the Ross County back room staff (Derek Adams, George Adams, and Roy McGregor) had used the connections made by current and former players to bring players to Victoria Park who would have never otherwise heard of Ross County F.C..  The subsequent influx of players (Ivan Sproule, Evangelos Oikonomou, Andre Hainault, etc.) turned what looked to be a prolonged relegation battle into a fifth place finish and a brief- and exciting- flirtation with the possibility of European football.  It appears as though Adams and Co. have done it again and that gives supporters hope that the second half of the 2013-2014 season will be just as exciting as last year’s.  Let’s take a look-

Čikoš, a Slovakian right back (a position County desperately need to strengthen) is only 25 has has already played with such storied clubs as Poland’s Wisla Krakow and Slovakia’s Slovan Bratislava.  He has also been a Slovakian age-group international player through the U-23 level.  So how have we arrived at a place where he and this club far-off in the Scottish Highlands might be considering a deal?

That seems fairly simple- current County on-loan wonder boy and former Slovakian youth international Filip Kiss must have reached out to him.  But wait, how did Filip Kiss end up moving from Cardiff City to Ross County?  That’s easy too- one of his teammates at Cardiff City was Don Cowie, Scottish international, Ross County Youth Academy product, and player of over 200 matches for County.  Duh.

So that takes care of those two Slovakians, let’s see how many of the rest of this year’s cast of international characters (some of whom arrived during the summer transfer window) we can account for?

  • Ben Gordon:  Eric Black (at Blackburn as recently as 2012) knows the Adamses from Aberdeen & Motherwell.*
  • Jordan Slew:  Played at Rotherham United with Michael Tidser, and Eric Black (at Blackburn as recently as 2012) knows the Adamses from Aberdeen & Motherwell.*
  • Michael Tidser:  Not sure of the connection, but he played at Rotherham with Jordan Slew.
  • Yohann Arquin:  Played at Notts County with former Ross County midfielder Mark Fotheringham.
  • Brian McLean:  Probably the same Motherwell connections that send a certain subset of County supporters into a tizzy re Derek Adams every time there’s a managerial vacancy at Fir Park.
  • Graham Carey:  No idea- anyone out there know?
  • Yann Songo’o:  On the books at Blackburn Rovers with Jordan Slew.
  • The “Dutch Masters”:  All Dutch and all played in the Netherlands- where Ross County have spent part of the two last pre-seasons- coincidence?
  • Steven Saunders:  See “McLean, Brian.”
  • Evangelos Oikonomou:  Returns to the club, the original connection was through fellow Greek player Georgios Samaras.

And then there is Nejc Mevlja…

Screen Shot 2014-01-27 at 2.22.30 PM

I haven’t yet made a “connection” with him, but let’s talk about him anyway!  Mevlja is a Slovenian (not Slovakian) defender believed to be on trial at Victoria Park.  The 23 year old plays for NK Maribor in Slovenia.  Maribor are the biggest and best club in Slovenia, and if that’s not enough, just ask the “bigger” and “better” clubs they’ve knocked out of European competitions over the past twenty years (Olympic Lyonnais, Villareal, Hibernian, Rangers, Dynamo Kyiv, etc.) about their quality.

From January 2012 through March 2013 Mevlja, a U21 international, was out of football due to injuries suffered in a automobile accident.  He has played only three matches so far this season, so the goal of a move to County would be for one of two reasons: to get the playing time that would allow him to work his way back into the Maribor starting eleven upon return from a loan or as a way of putting himself in the “shop window” for a few months (a season?) in order to generate other offers for a permanent move.

Either way, this will all be wrapped up within a week!

 

*Thanks to Craig Lewis (via Twitter) for this information!

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3 comments on “Is Erik Čikoš next on the list? Or is it Nejc Mevlja?

  1. Martinovich
    January 27, 2014

    From following the team through you for the past several years, it seems fairly certain that RC has become a “show place” destination for a certain level of player. Derek Adams and the organization are stable, organized, and give to players the kind of coaching and experience that bigger clubs are looking for. Teams have no compunctions loaning them players, and players such as Mevlja and Evangelos can come in and be seen and given a real chance for playing time for a qulaity run organization. It seems to me, from your posts over the years, that finding a stable, well run, and thoughtful organization in football is a fairly rare/difficult thing to find, and a good player looking for a temporary home would be hard pressed to find a place better than Ross County.

    It reminds me of 20 years ago out here in SoCal where we had a couple of great community college baseball programs, and because of scholarship limits and such, big programs like USC, Cal State Fullerton, Pepperdine, would direct players to the CC’s for a year or two before picking them up for their final two years. Over time those programs were so good and respected that other major colleges in the country would scout and make offers to players on those teams. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this kind of thing become common with County, where a couple of well thought of youngsters are purposely loaned to them by larger clubs each year.

    Last thought: would a lot of these youngsters feel more at home at County, since they come from small towns in hilly areas of their own country? I’ve seen video of Slovakia and slovenia…. look a lot like Scotland highlands.

    • weefuse
      January 27, 2014

      I think you’ve hit it on the head. In the past I think Ross County may just have been the most out of the way clubs could think to place a player (Charlie Adam!) to work through whatever needed some attention, but I think as the Highland Football Academy has begun to produce players who have gone on to Championship and Premier League clubs as well as the Scottish National team the actual quality of the club has come to the fore.

      The internet has also made it impossible to “hide” a player (unless you want to sentence him to a year in a place Moldovan second division), so I think clubs are looking at- as you said- the stability, the quality of coaching, the standard of play, the fiscal responsibility, and the fact that in the Highlands you’re probably going to have to go and “find” trouble which means you’ll spend more time focusing on improving your game.

      Now, if we could only hold onto a few of these players for more than a half season!

  2. Pingback: Welcome Erik Cikos and Congratulations, Barry Smith! | the tanner ba'

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