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ICT boss Robertson says he has struggled with mental health

The manager says the pressures of the pandemic have made life tough for everyone.

ICT boss Robertson says he has struggled with mental health SNS Group

Inverness boss John Robertson admits he’s struggled with his mental health during the pandemic.

Robertson says he’s felt “very down at times” and has questioned on several occasions whether to carry on as a manager. 

The former Hearts, Ross County and Livingston boss has a wealth of managerial experience but says that the unique demands of the last year have taken their toll at times.

“This has been, without doubt, the hardest year to manage,” Robertson said.

“First and foremost, as a manager, my concern is my players’ health and wellbeing.

“As a manager you deal with a lot of things, fallouts with their partners, financial problems, their car breaking down, a million and one things. Add all that together and then throw in a pandemic that threatens peoples lives, it’s very, very difficult.

“Some of the lads we have here are from England and haven’t seen their families for ten months. I haven’t seen my own children for ten months. My granddaughter was born in November and I haven’t seen her. That’s the same for everybody but we all get on with it.”

Robertson revealed that he had suffered some difficult moments over the last year and found his job affecting his health.

“It’s been difficult and I have been very, very down at times,” he said. “I struggled with my own mental health because you have all these added pressures to deal with.

“I try to help my players but who helps me? I go home and chat to my wife about it, but who helps the managers?

“I’m lucky that I’ve got a great relationship with the board and CEO here and we have various chats from time to time.

“But there’s been half a dozen times where I’ve felt really down and questioned whether I want to keep going. It’s just been so hard when you see what’s happening in the world.

“But you go again. It doesn’t last very long, but I would be a liar to say it’s not affected me because it has. You find this inner strength as a manager to keep working hard and make sure your players are ok, to keep asking about their families and that their wives and children are okay.”

Inverness are preparing for their Championship match against Raith Rovers this weekend, unsure if it will go ahead after Rovers requested a postponement because of a Covid outbreak in the squad.

Speaking before news of the outbreak was made public, Robertson had questioned the decision to stop football at all levels below the Championship but ask all second-tier clubs to start regular testing in order to keep playing.

“Without any real warning we’re just thrown into it, to find out what the protocols are, arrange testing, but you still worry,” he said. “My concern is that you have nine teams that haven’t been tested since they came back to training in July or August.

“There’s bound to be asymptomatic cases that nobody knows about and how will that affect the league going forward. We’ve got lots of games to catch up.”

And the manager was dismayed to see that the league had mentioned contractual obligations while delivering a message about player safety.

He said: “The biggest disappointment for me, whilst I’m delighted from a football point of view, and made me annoyed and fearful, is the statement from the SPFL where the second part said they wanted to continue to protect their tv and commercial contracts.

“That was a strange thing to put out there. It made me think we’re only playing on because of the tv deals, which is wrong.

“If they’re putting TV deals before player wellbeing and welfare and lives, and it’s not just players but support staff too, then that can’t be right.

“The fact that they put that in the statement, that doesn’t sit easy with me. That’s just my own opinion.

“If they are stopping the Juniors, the Highland and Lowland League and the lower leagues because they don’t want teams travelling all over the country with a quick-spreading virus, then why are we not stopping everybody?

“The Premiership have had their protocols in place for six months but in the Championship had to get all these protocols in place for Saturday.

“I understand we play for the public wellbeing, the impact that football has, but it doesn’t sit well that we’re being asked to play on while others stop.”