10 games that defined Jack Ross' tenure as Hibs manager
The ten matches which defined Jack Ross’ tenure as Hibs manager after he was relieved of his duties by the Easter Road club.
Things started off promisingly enough. Taking over from Paul Heckingbottom after the team had already made strides with Eddie May in interim charge, Ross was able to win his first match with a 3-1 victory over Motherwell. Coincidentally, Motherwell would be the opponent in his final game at Easter Road also.
First derby win
The visitors were able to take advantage of a mutinous Tynecastle with Martin Boyle scoring twice early in a 2-0 victory. Having been beaten by Hearts earlier in the campaign it was a sign things were on the up.
First derby defeat
While Ross’ initial truncated season was a source for optimism, it wasn’t all plain-sailing and fans first began to voice reservations when they were handily beaten 3-1 at their home by their biggest rivals – who were all set to drop out of the division.
Despite Hearts playing in a lower tier, they were still able to get the better of Jack Ross’ side in the rearranged Scottish Cup semi-final after extra-time. This was the first occasion where Ross would get the ‘big-game-bottler’ tag slapped on to him and it would stick from there.
Another semi-final defeat
This one came at the hands of St Johnstone in the Betfred Cup semis. Hibs battered the pre-match underdogs for the opening period, but they collapsed as soon as Saints took the lead, eventually going on to lose 3-0 in a performance which had fans furious.
Securing third place and beating Aberdeen are two things Hibs haven’t been particularly adept at achieving these past couple of decades, but Ross managed both in one fell swoop in the penultimate game of last season with a 1-0 win at Pittodrie. It was the first time in 16 years Hibs had finished best of the rest.
Further Hampden heartache
St Johnstone again at the national stadium, this time for the Scottish Cup final. It was the chance for Hibs to secure the famous trophy twice in the space of five years having gone so long without it, but they blew it. The pre-match favourites put in an insipid performance as Shaun Rooney netted the only goal.
Across the two legs against Rijeka, Hibs should have pushed themselves into the play-off round of the Europa Conference League. But a combination of poor finishing in the first leg and lack of squad depth in the second, due to a poor summer transfer window, ultimately meant they fell short in the quest for group-stage football on the continent.
Ross appeared to give himself a lengthy stay of execution and shrug off some of the ‘big-game’ accusations with a stunning 3-1 victory over reigning champions Rangers in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final. The manager wouldn’t even last long enough to lead his team out for the final.
The form dipped to one win in nine, and only two league wins since August, following a 1-0 defeat at Livingston. The scoreline didn’t tell the full story as Hibs put in a shambles of a performance which had fans chanting for Ross to go and the board deciding to acquiesce.