This is what Ross County manager Jim McIntyre was trying to say when he told reporters that, in the wake of victories in both the Scottish League Cup and the Scottish Cup, the league matches were the “priority” going forward. And he’s right, the cup situations will take care of themselves- Hibernian in the League Cup final in a month’s time, and whomever is drawn as an opponent tomorrow for the quarter-final round of the Scottish Cup- can we get Dumbarton at home?- will sort itself out as well.
In the meantime, we’ve got 22 points to make up on Celtic…or is that Aberdeen? No problem, right? A win over Hearts in mid-week and we’re right up to 35 points and on our way! That would also put us only six points behind Hearts and their place in the Europa League, something we could also take care of with a Scottish Cup victory. Alright, enough of this fun stuff, let’s get serious. Really serious.
Let’s take a look at something very important:
“If the Scottish Cup winners to have already qualified for a UEFA competition through their league place in the Premiership the qualification spot passes to the highest ranked team in that competition not yet qualified.”
Or put another way, if we can hold on to fourth place and Celtic or Hearts win the Scottish Cup, we are in the Europa League! So, since we’re probably not going to win the Cup (sorry, just trying to be realistic for a moment!) wouldn’t it be better to be drawn against one of the clubs that might give Hearts or Celtic trouble and knock them out? Rangers, Caley, and Dundee would be the obvious candidates from where I stand. And guess what, if we did do that- knock one of those clubs out of the competition- we’d suddenly be in the semi-finals ourselves, where we could potentially be matched up against a club below us in the Premiership, or possibly even a non-Rangers club from the Championship, which means that advancing to the final would be a distinct possibility.
I feel woozy.
Let me recap before I close- or pass out. Our wee club is in fourth place in the Premiership, in the League Cup final, and at the very least, the last eight of the Scottish Cup AND there still remain both two “direct” paths into Europe (win the Scottish Cup or pip Hearts for third place in the league) and one “indirect” path into Europe (hold onto fourth place and hope Celtic or Hearts wins the league). I’ll let somebody else sum up my reaction to this state of affairs: