Hibernian head coach Jack Ross has hailed under-pressure Aberdeen manager Derek McInnes’ mental strength as the two teams prepare to lock horns at Easter Road on Saturday afternoon.
McInnes’ near-eight year reign at Pittodrie has come under intense scrutiny following an underwhelming run of form that has yielded one victory from seven Premiership outings, a sequence that has seen the Dons slip to fourth behind Hibs in the table.
As the second longest serving boss in Scottish football behind Peterhead’s Jim McInally, Ross is full of admiration for McInnes’ longevity.
Ross is also appreciative of Aberdeen’s consistency under his mentor’s tutelage, Aberdeen having not finished any lower than fourth in McInnes’ seven full seasons in charge.
“His record and his abilities, his mental toughness and resilience as well, like any manager it’s challenging to keep going when you are under pressure,” said Ross, whose team are currently two points clear of the Dons.
“It’s draining but I think you need to have the strength of character to do it and do it for a significant period of time.
“Every manager has my absolute admiration for getting on with the job but certainly the longevity he’s shown in that position is proof of how tough he is as well.
“Derek doesn’t need me to speak for him, I’ve spoken often enough about the respect I have for him, his qualities as a manager, everything he has achieved and he’s also somebody who has been really, really good to me from my first steps into management at Alloa right through to the present day.
“It’s no surprise that I’m supportive of everything he has done as manager. I think he’s well used to these types of situations.
“He’s been there a lot, I’ve been there, not as many times as he has, but it is just part of the job.”
Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano, meanwhile, has made it clear that he is in no rush to resolve his future, despite being out of contract this summer.
The Leith outfit are keen to tie the Israel international, who has kept 10 clean sheets from 22 Premiership games, down on longer terms.
Marciano, who is set to become a dad for a second time this summer, is settled at Hibs and in Edinburgh but appears to be keen on keeping his options open.
He said: “I know it’s a cliche but at the moment I am only focussing on my football, performances and training hard everyday.
“When we need to comment on the contract we’ll comment but I think it’s good for me and the club that I’m focussing on playing well and training good, and not getting distracted.
“For me the most important thing is to play good for the club and without that I won’t get any opportunity.
“I know what is my value and I’m happy here.
“Because we have so many games this year I don’t think I need to deal with that at the moment.”