Jack Ross doesn’t just want a victory over Rangers tomorrow, he says he is attempting to create a culture at Hibernian where it becomes commonplace to get the better of the Old Firm sides.
“It has happened frequently over the years that teams will produce shock results but there are probably not that many teams that have been able to achieve consistent results in recent times.
“First and foremost it’s about creating a culture where you win matches consistently full stop, so far we’re doing that and the next stage is to make sure that points total does not grind to a halt just because we’re playing against Rangers and Celtic. Having them back-to-back, that’s the thing we don’t want to happen. We want to make sure we’re taking points from that calibre of opposition.”
Last season was the first since 2012 where the Easter Road side failed to take points off Rangers and Ross wants a return to the regular scalpings of a few years ago. That was when Alan Stubbs and then Neil Lennon sent out teams with the ability and the psychology to defy the odds on a regular basis.
Having started the season in fine fettle, the Hibs manager sees no impediment to the capital side doing that again. Neither does midfielder Alex Gogic, who has experience of bettering the Ibrox giants from his time at Hamilton.
In his time at New Douglas Park, Accies tackled Rangers on a dozen occasions, but a couple stand out.
“I just remember the two wins!” laughs the midfielder, whose presence on the Hibs team has been one of the main contributing factors in the early-season success. “You have to be strong defensively. Sometimes you need a bit of luck and, I remember, [the then Hamilton keeper] Luke Southwood had some amazing saves as well [in the most recent of those wins, in March] Then you have to score and just stay strong and try not to concede – that’s the most important thing with these kind of games
“Obviously they’ll have a lot of the ball. And I think you’ve just got to defend your box as hard as possible but then sometimes you go to press high, and then the next aspect is to try and score a goal.”
But given the ratio of wins to losses in those head to heads, he says there was never a game he went into in a negative mindset.
“As a football player, you have got to believe that you can win any game, it doesn’t matter who you play against. Obviously, some games are harder and some games are easier but you can’t go with a mentality that you’re going to lose. You just might as well not even turn up then.”
The next two games, against the two teams sitting above them in the standings, are huge and Hibs go into them with a point to prove. The biggest test so far came against Aberdeen and although they lost that day, Hibs were without the influential Cypriot, who was sidelined by a false positive coronavirus test.
“We’ve started very well this season and I think he’s [Jack Ross] right to say we must have a go,” added Gogic. “I think we must have a go at any team. At Hamilton it was a more defensive set-up but we always went out to try and get something out of the game so it is still much the same really, but obviously, maybe attacking-wise we might have the ball more than we did with Hamilton.”
While Rangers have yet to concede a goal on domestic duty, the Edinburgh side are bolstered by their own defensive record, having denied all-comers from open play this term. “I think this will be a good indication of the progress we’ve made,” claims Ross. “The point totals and results to date would suggest we are making good progress but it’s another step up against a team that you would expect to be hard opposition. It’s an exciting one for us.
“I look at my squad and the frequency in which some of these players have played against them and the level they’ve played at, I’ve got international players and players who have played at a good level, I think they believe they can win the game.”
Jamie Murphy is ineligible to play against his parent club.
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