The former Alloa, St Mirren and Sunderland boss withstood a backlash from fans of the Easter Road club after his team lost to Hearts in the semi-final of last season’s competition and then paid the price for a disappointing second half against today’s opponents St Johnstone in the last four of the League Cup.
He has since built on those two semi-finals, guiding the club to their first top three finish in 16 years and booked a place in today’s Hampden showcase.
Victory would round off the Leithers’ best domestic campaign since the early 1950s.
It is a vindication of owner Ron Gordon’s faith in the gaffer and Ross’ belief in his own ability.
“I don’t really bother about that, to be honest,” said Ross, who took over in November 2019 when Hibs were struggling near the foot of the table. “Purely because I’ve done this job as a manager for a few years now. I’ve been retired from playing for ten years so I’ve coached and managed at very different levels of the game and I’ve had to earn the right to manage big clubs. I didn’t just step in at this level.
“I am now more than 70 games into this Hibs job and my win record is above average and it has been at all my clubs so I know I’m good. You have to take comfort in that.
“There is never guaranteed success, there are always fine margins, and I have seen that at previous clubs, and at Hibs, at all levels of management.
“But, I think it has helped my career that I’ve had to work my way up through different levels of the game. I’ve heard the shouts from the sidelines and I know how fans can sometimes be when they feel frustrated but I am not someone who has been handed all this on a plate, I’ve proved I’m good enough to do it.”
Having an owner who understands the game and the occasional frustrations has given the club stability and Ross the opportunity to move within touching distance of the pre-season targets of third place and silverware.
“It helps to have an owner who will back you and not just react to social media,” said Ross. “When you take a job, most managers consider the senior management or owner and how much they are influenced by the mainstream media and social media. We work in a highly emotive industry where opinions can fluctuate, sometimes on a more than weekly basis, so you have to be strong mentally. Character-wise, the way I am as a person is helpful and it helps that the owner is of a similar mindset.
“When I retired from playing and got the opportunity to be assistant manager at Dumbarton, if someone said to me that I’d be managing Hibs at a Scottish Cup final...I am a football romantic so walking the team out at Hampden is big for me. That matters more than anything that was being said earlier in the season.
“Come the end of the game I will hopefully be the winning manager and that is the driver for me.”