Hibs boss Jack Ross speaks on Hearts' Daniel Stendel and hints at Ofir Marciano selection for derby
Hibees manager didn't expect pair to meet again in Scotland
Jack Ross admits that as they locked horns in March, neither he or Daniel Stendel would ever have imagined they’d do so again in an Edinburgh derby.
Back then Ross was in charge of Sunderland, taking on Stendel’s Barnsley in a League One match at Oakwell, a game which ended in a no-scoring draw, the Black Cats having won an earlier clash at the Stadium of Light.
But it was Barnsley who clinched promotion to the Championship while Sunderland lost a play-off final to Charlton. However, only a few months later both Ross and Stendel lost their jobs, only to pitch up in charge of Hibs and Hearts respectively.
“It’s modern football, I suppose,” said the Easter Road head coach. “That second game was in March and I don’t think, if you’d said to us then, the two of you will be managing in Scotland in a few months time, it just shows you how difficult it is to predict where you will be.
“I would regard myself as fortunate in that sense in that I have got back into a good club. Daniel can answer that himself, but I am sure he would say the same because he has ended up with an opportunity at a big club as well.”
However, while Ross has enjoyed a decent start at Easter Road, Stendel has endured three successive defeats, results which have resulted in Hearts sitting bottom of the Premiership table, three points adrift.
Defeats by Celtic and Rangers have resulted in Hibs slipping out of the top six, a position Ross is determined they regain before the end of the year, a visit to Livingston to follow today’s trip to Tynecastle.
And to that end, he recognises how vital the outcome of the game is to both sides, saying: “They will answer that in terms of where they are at and the importance of points for them.
“For us, it is important because we worked hard to get back into the top six so quickly over the last month and then we dropped out over the weekend. Our aim is to be back there for the turn of the year – and to ensure that we have to win our next two games. That’s the aim for us. It is a very short-term aim but it is a very clear one.”
While their paths may have crossed in England, Ross insisted it would be difficult to gauge too much from those games going into today’s match. He said: “We were both in charge of different teams, had different personnel and both teams were in the top two or three positions, different circumstances as well.
“Much has been made of how his team played at Barnsley, it’s maybe difficult to do that right away at Hearts. I know he’s used a lot of personnel and systems in the few games to date so it’s difficult to predict with certainty what we’ll come up against. But I think they’ll be a team committed and desperate for points given the position they are in.”
Stendel has revealed that following their previous encounters, he and Ross hadn’t indulged in the usual after-match drink in the home manager’s office, something the Hibs boss was adamant was of no significance.
He said: “I think that’s because Daniel didn’t come in. I enjoyed the games and I’ve no issues that way with Daniel at all. Not all managers do share a drink. It’s a myth that everybody does that after the game – some do and some don’t. It’s no big deal.”
Meanwhile, Ross appears ready to forgive and forget following goalkeeper Ofir Marciano’s howler as he set Rangers on the way to a 3-0 by gifting them their opening goal.
There were only three minutes on the clock when the Israeli internationalist dallied on a Lewis Stevenson pass-back, oblivious to the fact he was rapidly being closed down by Joe Aribo. He managed to half-block his clearance, the ball falling for Ryan Kent to steer into the empty net.
But hinting Marciano will again be between the sticks Ross, said: “I very much work on the mantra as a manager that I accept mistakes because they happen.
“Usually I talk about the final third because that’s where I expect players to try things. But mistakes happen and always will. It’s the reaction to the mistake that’s the key thing.
“Once it’s made there’s nothing you can do about it. In fairness to Ofir, in the game he’s made some good saves after it, so his reaction is positive in that sense.”
Since replacing Paul Heckingbottom Ross has relied, more or less, on the same players, but he hinted that the display against Rangers could see changes.
He said: “We’ve had quite a high degree of consistency in selection since I’ve come in because we’ve been playing reasonably well and picking up points.
“Friday was probably the first real disappointing one. So that gives us a couple of things to think about.”