Second stint as Peebles Rovers boss was too good to resist, says Ger Rossi

New Peebles Rovers manager Ger Rossi says a second stint at charge at Whitestone Park was an opportunity impossible to resist, but he reckons that rebooting his managerial career there will lead to his boots being given the boot.

By Craig Goldthorp
Friday, 1st July 2022, 11:15 am
Updated Friday, 1st July 2022, 11:22 am
New Peebles Rovers manager Ger Rossi
New Peebles Rovers manager Ger Rossi

The 34-year-old, appointed last month after work commitments led to predecessor Dave Kinross standing down, was previously boss at Rovers from 2017 to 2019 while his dad Ger Rossi Snr, since replaced by Colin Macdonald, was chairman.

He then moved on to play for Vale of Leithen, competing two tiers up in the Scottish Lowland Football League at that time, and remained there until he returned to Rovers in the spring to take up the role of assistant manager to Kinross following previous boss Michael Wilson’s move in the opposite direction to Innerleithen’s Victoria Park.

“Dave stepped in and we were kind of collaborating – that’s the worst way of putting it – until the end of last season,” former Hibernian youth player Rossi told the Southern Reporter.

“Dave had decided it was time for him to move on. It was quite a big commitment coming here from the Livingston area.

“He has quite a high-end job so he was doing a lot of travelling and the long-term commitment to Rovers was going to be a little bit tougher for him, so I find myself back in the hot-seat again.

“Being a local guy with a little bit of free time on my hands, the manager’s job sort of fell back into my court.

“When you’re back involved in it and you have a love for the game, it’s almost impossible to resist, especially when you work out the particulars with the boss at home and she allows you to do it.

“It’s my second stint back as manager and it’s just about kind of rebuilding again.

“At the moment, we’ve had quite a good period of recruitment. We’ve only had a few weeks but through a few contacts, we’ve managed to bring in a few new faces to refresh the lads that were there.

“We’ve lost maybe four or five players but we’ve brought in that many to top it back up, so we have a squad of 19 signed and sealed, which is probably quite a lot at this level.”

After finishing 12th in last season’s East of Scotland Football League first division conference B, with 20 points from 28 games, restructuring means that Rovers are now in the league’s new 18-team second division along with fellow Borderers Hawick Royal Albert.

“They put the top six or seven teams in conferences A and B last season into the first division and then obviously the rest went into the second division,” Rossi said.

“It was a restructuring and I think just a way of trying to find everyone’s level within that two-way system.”

Pre-season training is now under way, and Rossi, assistant manager John Brogan, formerly a defender at Clyde, have been outlining their targets for the 2022/23 season to their players.

“We spoke to the boys and said that we’re not going to put any expectation on where we’re going to finish, but what we do want to do is go and win every week,” said Rossi.

“That’s set from the very outset of what we’re doing.

“We want to be as competitive as possible. I think the boys we’ve brought in will help us do that.

“It’s about going out and making sure we put our own stamp on games and try to win every game we go into.

“Whether that will happen or not, it’s always nice to believe that and dream that.

“From a management perspective, the hope is that we get a top half-finish.”

Rossi also knows the style of football he expects Peebles to play under his watch.

“We are always quite direct but not in the sense of going back to front,” he said.

“We are maybe old school in a sense. We like to get out wide, get balls in the box and play through the thirds as well, but I don’t think we’re going to be a team that drop off and play in the six-yard box.

“We want to make sure the boys have a system and an understanding to play through the thirds quickly and try and get in the final third as quick as possible.”

Prior to getting the manager’s job, Rossi’s spell as assistant to Kinross in the latter months of last season saw him also playing games, but he doesn’t think it’s likely that he will be donning his boots again next campaign.

“Very reluctantly would I be playing,” he said.

“I think it would have to get to the emergency stage before I would come back and play.

“Initially when I came back to help out, I played a few games in the middle of the park and saw the season through, which was the initial plan.

“I played round about the centre circle – I didn’t move too far from there!”