How Hibs managers have struggled for longevity and why Jack Ross is driven by desire to outlast so many of them
Jack Ross signed an extension to his contract that links him to Hibs until 2024, but it is events like Thursday night’s European tie, more than any piece of paper, that will keep him at the Easter Road club long-term.
An ambitious man, he is driven by a need to challenge himself and while records will never eclipse his quest for silverware, last season’s tally of most away wins in the club’s history, the first top-three finish in 16 years and, collectively, one of the most consistent domestic returns since the 1950s gave him a platform to build on.
Like a gauntlet being thrown down, getting so tantalisingly close to something so much better also gave him something to prove as he looks to make his on the club’s history.
Sufficiently attuned to his environment, he knows that the shelf-life of the men who preceded him was relatively short and, like a man riding the rodeo bull, he recognises the kudos in longevity.
In the years since Alex Miller’s decade-long incumbency, from 1986 to 1996, there have been 15 full-time Hibs managers. Of them, Alex McLeish was the longest-serving, staying three years and ten months.
Neil Lennon lasted two years and eight months while Tony Mowbray’s stay was three months shorter. Few of the others made it past two years, many struggled to make it a year.
Ross has been granted a luxury few managers are afforded – the promise of time.
“The deal gives me an element of comfort, having that backing of the club and owner,” said Ross
“We speak all the time about taking the club forward and being more successful. They see me as a big part of that, but I need to be successful in the short-term to prove I am the right person.
“I enjoyed last season with the exception of one or two occasions.”
Working towards eclipsing past associations, he knows a lengthy tenure would indicate success. He also knows that sticking around until 2024 would suggest mutual value in the ongoing partnership, with the club reflecting his own ambitions.
Without the high league finish, European football and the promise of silverware which comes with progressing in all cup competitions in his time in Leith, the new deal would not have proved so seductive.
“I said last year that getting to Europe is something we need to do,” said Ross.
“This club has had small bursts of success but to do it season after season is a big driver. We want to shift the whole mindset of the club so we can look to deliver that every season.
“It’s not easy but it’s something I want to be involved in and it is a big motivation for me to be the person who delivers that success at HIbs.”
Stability, as Aberdeen discovered when they stopped chopping and changing managers and gave Derek McInnes a prolonged period at the helm, can make it easier to build.
“Stability isn’t that exciting sometimes,” added Ross. “Everyone wants to change everything at the first opportunity. That can be the manager or the players.
“But, hopefully, that stability in the management feeds through to the players and they believe it's a good place to develop and improve and you have a good solid foundation for solid success.”
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