Playing under 'brave' Ross County boss John Hughes was educational, says Hibs manager Jack Ross

Jack Ross describes his former gaffer as “brave” when it comes to the way he set out his teams and says that the three years spent working under John Hughes at Falkirk provided him with a useful foundation when he eventually moved into management as well.

Jack Ross (right) has faced up to former boss John Hughes on managerial duty on a couple of occasions. Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group
Jack Ross (right) has faced up to former boss John Hughes on managerial duty on a couple of occasions. Photo by Craig Williamson/SNS Group

The newly-appointed Ross County boss returns to Easter Road this evening, where he spent many years as a player and as a manager, and while the priority, for now, will be picking up points, the current Hibs head coach does not expect it will take long for his predecessor to make his mark on the Highlanders as he tries to steer them away from the foot of the table.

“That time [we spent together at Falkirk] coincided with Falkirk being recognised as a really good football team in the league and we came very close to finishing in the top six during that period - and we were worthy of that because we had a very good side,” said Ross.

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“That naturally makes it enjoyable and I played with some really good individual players there.

“John decided to play in a certain way after the start of my second season. We played a midfield diamond, which not many teams in Scotland played and we dominated possession in a lot of games. I do believe that improved me as a player.

“The football side of it was quite intriguing. He was quite brave in terms of how he decided to play and put a lot of work into that. There was probably an educational aspect of that.

Brian [Rice] was his assistant, and is now a manager in his own right at Hamilton, and I’ve spoken to him about how I used a lot of the work we had done at Falkirk in the early days of my own coaching. But then you get a foothold and start developing your own ways of working.”

Under Hughes, Ross was appointed club captain and, when team-mate Steven Thomson was later sidelined through injury, he also served as team captain.

“So, I ended up having that responsibility of wearing the armband in games for my local team, where I was born and brought up.

“To be able to do that in big venues in the Premier League and achieve victories against the Old Firm at Falkirk Stadium was a good time in my career.”

Ross left Falkirk in 2008, Hughes a year later, but the pair have faced up to each other in opposing technical areas since then, when Ross was at St Mirren and Hughes was at Raith Rovers. Honours are even in terms of the win return of one victory apiece but the Hibs gaffer dished out the heftier loss, in the shape of a 5-0 thumping that provoked Hughes to verbally roast his players and signalled the beginning of the end of his time at Stark’s Park.

But, given Ross County’s precarious position in the Premiership and the fact they recorded a 0-0 stalemate the last time the teams met, in Dingwall, Ross expects a tough test.

“The good thing is for me is I believe we are in better form now than we were then, even though the results are similar. I think we have got better as the season has gone on which is encouraging.”

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