PANTOMIME season started early when Hearts had a cheeky pop at Jack Ross.
But the Hibs head coach is adamant being name-checked in the Jambos’ appointment of Daniel Stendel was easy to put behind him – because he was having too much fun at Jack and the Beanstalk.
The Tynecastle club took the unusual step of mentioning another boss when they lauded the incoming Stendel for winning promotion from League One last season ‘ahead of Jack Ross’ Sunderland’.
But, while social media had a field day with the dig, Ross – formerly under-20s manager in Gorgie – laughed it off.
He said: “I was busy at the pantomime after the game on Saturday when the announcement was made. I went to see Jack and the Beanstalk, actually. So that was quite fitting.
“I enjoyed our victory [against Aberdeen], I enjoyed the pantomime and, truthfully, the statement did not have any impact on me whatsoever.
“I know some people made a big deal about it but I wasn’t bothered. It was what it was and we move on. I think I will have enough to motivate me for that game on Boxing Day without that!”
The December 26 showdown between the rivals at Tynecastle will see Ross and Stendel renew hostilities following their fight to reach the Championship last term.
While the German’s Tykes ultimately prevailed, Sunderland did register one win and a draw in their fixtures against each other.
Ross recalled: “I enjoyed the games against Barnsley and we did well in them but they won promotion, which was what it was about.
“They were a good side last year, a young team and Barnsley had a recruitment model which I think was a good fit for Daniel’s style.”
However, a more pressing concern for Ross is tomorrow’s daunting trip to face league leaders Celtic.
He added: “Their form recently has been terrific, it is not easy to bang out so many positive results and, by and large, play well during those matches. So, I am looking forward to facing the challenge they will pose – and excited about it as well.
“Given where we are at the moment, I think it’s a good fixture for us.”