BAH, humbug! That favourite chorus line of the misanthrope. Charles Dickens conceived of the embittered Ebenezer Scrooge, who saw through yuletide fever as a hollow, trumped-up charade designed to line the pockets of greedy merchants profiteering on the middle classes’ need to spread festive cheer during their descent into the short days and cold grips of our protracted winter months, long before Santa Claus donned a red suit and appeared on the back of fairy-light encrusted Coca-Cola HGVs spreading the news that the holidays are coming.

In present-day Scottish football, ’tis always the season nowadays: from June right through until May it’s Viaplay Cup groups, UEFA qualifiers, and before we know it the league flag is being unfurled for another 38-game marathon culminating in the Scottish Cup final. Lump on proposals for biannual World Cups, ballooning the FIFA Club World Cup, the spectre of a European Super League, Nations Leagues, Champions League re-formatting, a new Europa Conference League, not to mention Scotland putting a proper team together and qualifying for major tournaments again, and there’s never a moment’s rest. Not that I’m complaining; we’ve never had it so good.

So, what would the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come proffer as a vision for the future of our game? Scotland winning the Euros? Beating Germany? Squeaking through our group? OK, OK, winning a ruddy match at a major finals for the first time since old Scrooge was stalking the streets of London looking for hapless kids to kick into the snow.

In the Scottish Premiership, Derek Adams is best qualified for the role of a Dickensian, ghoulish mystic medium, given that in his third spell as Ross County manager he has at one time or another been the Highlands club’s past, present and yet-to-come.

“Today, if I’m a paying customer, I don’t come to watch this football match… I don’t see any entertainment. If this is the best we’ve got in the country, what are we going to do?” Bah, humbug!

You can just about see Adams donning a night-cap, bursting open his Victorian townhouse windows and barking these words at a motheaten Muppet in the street like Michael Caine in the quintessential adaptation of Dickens’ fable.

Adams’ rant saw him label those who follow the Scottish game as muppets, suggesting that the English League Two club he just a few weeks ago left to rejoin County, Morecambe, is “100 times better”. “Seriously?” he reflected. Quite so.

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Adams’ fixture schedule over the festive period is unlikely to lighten his mood. Currently floating just one point above Motherwell in the Premiership relegation play-off place with a game in hand, the visit of Hibernian to Dingwall tomorrow kicks off an intense few months of staving off the drop for the curmudgeonly Glaswegian.

The task doesn’t get any easier when Adams returns to his home city on Wednesday to take on a resurgent Rangers side, unbeaten under Philippe Clement, attempting to apply pressure on league leaders Celtic ahead of the Old Firm derby three days later as part of what is shaping up to be the most enthralling title race seen in over a decade.

Whilst that fierce battle is unfolding at Celtic Park, Adams will be in the capital taking on the division’s third force in Hearts at Tynecastle: a veritable selection box of difficult fixtures which will threaten to derail his season.

Maybe when Adams sits down by the fire on Christmas Eve to take a breather, he’ll be visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past: himself. “Oooo, Derek, remember when you started out as a manager all those years ago. You won the Second Division with this club which must have been 1000 times worse than Morecambe back in those days. Two years later you got that crock of Christmas puddings to the Scottish Cup final, Oooo…”

After a brief spell as assistant manager to Colin Calderwood at Hibernian in 2010, Adams returned to Dingwall for his second spell. There he won the First Division title after going on a 34-game unbeaten run, finishing the season 24 points ahead of nearest challengers Dundee.

Ironically, it was the 1-0 defeat to the newly promoted Dens Park side under novice manager Tony Docherty which sparked his now infamous rant last week. In a flash of light, the Ghost of Christmas Present appears: “Oooo, Derek, look on this man [Docherty celebrating with the ecstatic Dundee fans whose over-exuberance spilled onto the Dingwall pitch after Joe Shaughnessy’s 97th-minute winner].

“This was you, once. Remember when you collected Premiership manager of the month in County’s first spell in the top-flight after continuing that unbelievable unbeaten run back in 2012, before securing a top-six finish in your first season in the country’s top division?

“Oooo… That’s what Docherty is doing today. Why are you trashing his team? Why are you hitting out at the game which made you PFA manager of the year back then – burgeoning your reputation and making possible the move to 100-times-better Morecambe in the future? Oooo…”

Then, in a flash of light, he’ll be confronted with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come: his own sacking as County manager.

After losing to Hibs, Rangers, Hearts, then Aberdeen on January 2, Adams is confronted with the reality that Scottish football – represented in Europe by these four clubs this season – is actually not all bad – and that maybe, just maybe, it’s he who must change his ways.

With a flash of light, Adams is confronted with his final post-match interview as Bradford manager, just eight months into a three-year contract, following a 1-0 defeat to Exeter in February 2022. “If [Bradford] are going to get a new manager in they’re not going to get as successful a manager as myself in the door,” he watches himself saying. “That’s obvious to everyone, because my record is up there with all the records in this league.” Adams was duly sacked and returned a week later to that pinnacle of British football: Morecambe. A year and a half later he quit The Shrimps to rejoin County once more.

Rather than yelling “Bah, humbug!” at the standard of the leagues which have given him a career and opportunities until now, Adams should be confronted with the challenge to improve his situation by looking at his own conduct first. After such a promising start to his managerial career with County over a decade ago, he could face being left outside in the cold looking in at the festivities on offer in Scottish football if he refuses to do so.