JOHN RANKIN always approached trips to Hamilton with a sense of trepidation due to the inhospitable welcome opposing players received. Now that he has been appointed as head coach of the Championship club, he is looking forward to bringing back the fear factor in Lanarkshire.

The 39-year-old, who served as previous manager Stuart Taylor’s assistant, is eager to get stuck in at the FOYS Stadium after landing his promotion in the wake of his old boss’ departure.

For much of his time as a player, Rankin – who turned out for Ross County, Hibernian and Dundee United amongst others – watched as Accies repeatedly denied the odds by punching above their weight, leaving better-resourced sides with a bloody nose as they made their nay-sayers look foolish indeed.

The reason for Hamilton’s prolonged stint in the top flight is simple, he says. They were prepared to treat every league fixture as a battle, and Rankin is keen to instil that dogged determination in the current crop.

“People ask about my ambitions but my first one is to get us back to how we were,” he said. “I hated coming here as a player, a lot of boys did.

“People would look at the Old Firm but I used to think ‘oh, no we are going to Accies then’.

“They were a real team and you knew they would graft and how hard it would be. They were a tough team to play against, they were in your face, aggressive, they were hungry and angry.

“We have to get back to the basics of doing that and then allowing ourselves the respect to go and play. We have to earn that right though by making this a difficult place to come to.

“Hamilton were in the Premiership for so long as they done the basics right, they fought for one another. They weren’t slow in telling each other if something wasn’t right and they wanted to make each other better.

“I know times have changed from a few years ago but we need to get to the stage where we aren’t too sensitive and we can take criticism.

“We want Hamilton to get back to what they were, which brought success.”

Rankin worked under his fair share of talented managers during his playing career but he plans on being his own man as he enters the dugout as a fully-fledged coach.

But there is one man from his past it would be remiss not to take a few footballing lessons from. As a former Manchester United academy player, Rankin admits that he has taken on board a few pointers from a certain Sir Alex Ferguson.

“I was there as a 16-year-old and it is a vivid memory,” Rankin recalled. “He knew everybody’s name in that building.

“He knew everyone’s mum’s name, he knew everyone’s sister’s name. That became a big thing because there was always a personal touch to his dealings with you.

“Take the footballing side out of it. That was massive and it has always stuck with me.

“He used to ask me if my mammy was alright for sugar. Things like that. The personal touch is something you need to get with every player. This generation of players are living in what I call The Emoji culture. Whether it’s a thumb up or a picture of a ball or a picture of a net, I need to be able to communicate with them in some way.

“There has to be some balance between communicating with the senior players and communicating with the kids. You have to communicate with everyone.”

There is one particular incident from his time at United that sticks out for Rankin.

He continued: “We had just played a FA Youth Cup match against Nottingham Forest on the Tuesday and Manchester United were playing Valencia in the Champions League that same night. We got beaten in extra time and he [Ferguson] pulled me into the office the following day and shouted: ‘come here!’

“The video was in black and white and he asked if I knew where it was and I could see it was Dunfermline’s ground. He showed me footage of him scoring at East End Park and said: ‘this is how you finish, son!’

“He was rewinding it and fast forwarding it. I was a 17-year-old kid and for a man of that stature to be talking to me has stayed with me all these years.

“You should always speak to everyone the same. It’s a lesson I can take into my own managerial career.

“You do not know who you are talking to and you should give everyone respect whether it’s the cleaner, the owner, the painter, everyone I speak to will get the same energy from me whether it’s first thing in the morning or last thing at night. That’s a massive thing.”