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Getting backed by Brendan told Hibs boss Jack Ross he was on the right track

© SNSJack Ross with Brendan Rodgers
Jack Ross with Brendan Rodgers

Two Celtic Park defeats helped make Jack Ross as a manager.

But the Hibs boss reckons he’s returning today in charge of a side that can finally break the Hoops.

Ross was lavished with praise as a rookie gaffer after his part-time Alloa side pushed Brendan Rodgers’ “Invincibles” to the brink of a League Cup draw.

The then Celtic boss was further impressed later that season when Ross returned in charge of St Mirren, and again caused problems at Parkhead.

Looking back, those two games feel like pivotal moments for the new Hibs boss.

“When you go into coaching or management, you probably need certain moments to happen for you and certain things to fall your way,” explained Ross.

“I think everyone would say that.

“I had circumstances where Alloa had a good cup run, drew Celtic and performed well on the night.

“Those little bits of fate go your way, and help you get some attention as a manager when the team does OK.

“At Alloa, as a part-time team we didn’t have loads of time to prepare. But everything we had prepared to hopefully do in the game, we did.

“And we got a bit of luck.

“Celtic had loads of pressure, but didn’t score. You need moments like that to help build your confidence as a manager. It gave me confidence that I was on the right path.”

“Brendan was really good with me after the Alloa game,” said Ross.

“He said that if there was anything I needed, just to let him know. And then on the back of the St Mirren game, I went to Lennoxtown a couple of times.

“Once I went to watch them train, and Brendan gave up loads of his time with me.

“On the next occasion, I just went up for a coffee and a chat.

“I was coming to the end of my time at St Mirren and knew I was probably going to move and we spoke about that.

“He’s obviously a very busy man, and I’ve had a lot on my plate, too, so we don’t speak a lot now.

“But it was good for me early on to have a recommendation from someone like him, who is a good manager.

“And it was nice to be able to go toe-to-toe with his team over those two games, even if we lost them both in the end.

“Football isn’t played on paper or on a computer screen.

“You’re coming up against managers who you know are good at the same thing you do, and it’s always good to be able to test yourself against them.

“We played against a couple of Premier League teams when I was at Sunderland and that was the same.

“Chris Wilder and Sean Dyche are both really good managers, but I enjoyed it.

“I don’t find it intimidating. I enjoy the challenge and then the conversations with them afterwards.”

Having come to enjoy big-game atmospheres as a manager, Ross now wants his players to do the same.

And given the belief he has in them, he can see no reason why they shouldn’t enjoy today’s trip to Celtic Park.

“There’s an element of having to believe you can go there and get a positive result,” he said.

“I believe we have the ability to do that if you look at our squad.

“We’ll need to do certain parts of the game well, but if we do that, then we’ll have a chance.

“We’re a good side and we’ve shown that in recent weeks. And I think that run we’re on helps players buy into the belief.

“If I’m telling him they can go to Celtic and win when they’re on a bad run, then it’s harder for them to believe me.

“But, right now, they’re feeling pretty good about themselves.”