Jack Ross fury over 'disgusting' Ryan Porteous abuse as Hibs boss condemns Rangers red card critics who 'stoked a reaction'
Hibs manager Jack Ross has made an impassioned defence of Ryan Porteous and condemned the “inflammatory language” aimed at the youngster in the aftermath of his Ibrox sending off.
In the final Premiership match before the international break, the Leith club had been leading 1-0 when the Hibs defender was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Joe Aribo.
It prompted some hard-hitting post-match comments from Rangers manager Steven Gerrard, who insisted the “wild tackle” could have been a leg-breaker, while questioning Porteous’ intent, which was followed by a major backlash from pundits and social media trolls.
Sickened by the vitriol aimed at his player, Hibs manager Ross has hit back strongly at the tone taken by some of his critics and shone a light on the personal abuse Porteous has suffered as a result.
“I think those who have that platform need to be careful not to exaggerate or misrepresent things,” said Ross. “I have seen what a 22-year-old had to deal with because of that.
“It was a tackle, that’s all it was. People can have their opinion on how bad a tackle it was, that’s football, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the way there was a complete misrepresentation of it by people who used inflammatory language without thought. It definitely stoked a stronger reaction.
“His disciplinary record last season was outstanding but people don’t want to hear that. In the current climate, when we are quick to highlight some other forms of abuse, it is terrible what he has had to put up with.
“He is a young man, who has had to deal with the professional disappointment of the way the game panned out but it is the other stuff he has had to deal with that’s inappropriate and we shouldn’t wash over it as though it is acceptable. The abuse, and people talking about him dying, that goes beyond the pale.”
As the incident was heavily-debated in the following days, former Hearts boss Craig Levein suggested it may not be long before reckless challenges land players in court and, taking it all in, Ross said he was astounded by the ensuing narrative.
“Some people discussed it in a rational, balanced manner, as you would expect. But some people didn’t and blew it all out of proportion,” he added.
"Because of that a 22-year-old was subjected to the most dreadful abuse in the aftermath. I have seen it and it is disgusting. I have seen sectarian abuse, homophobic abuse, people telling him they hope he dies of a tumour.
“You can say that came in the aftermath of the incident or you can say it is in the aftermath of the way some people spoke about it but I have to be protective of him.”
There were check-up calls in the hours and days that followed and despite Gerrard’s assertion that Porteous “let his manager down and his teammates down”, Ross hit back.
“Ryan didn’t let me down, he knows that. I’m there to make my players better so it’s not about me. He is a young man who has made over 100 appearances for Hibs and he loves this club and wants to bring success. He will always come back stronger.”