Hibs have been a hapless outfit for the best part of 18 months, but I’m convinced they bottomed out under Colin Calderwood and are now on the way back up.
As Hibees fretted over the direction their club was heading in, I wrote in the aftermath of Calderwood’s dismissal that they were only a decent managerial appointment away from getting back on track. The jury was out when Pat Fenlon took over and results have been slow in coming, but I’ve been nothing but impressed by the Hibs boss so far. He seems assured and decisive, and, after being quick to spot where the main weaknesses were in a squad desperately short on confidence and character, he addressed those issues with what looks to be one of the most impressive transfer splurges conducted by a Hibs manager in recent times. I’d be astonished if Hibs aren’t well safe from relegation long before the season’s end.
• When news broke that Gary Bollan and Livingston had parted company on Sunday afternoon, I probably wasn’t alone in waiting for the revelation that he had been head-hunted by an English club. Upon learning that the man who had guided the Lions to back-to-back title successes was being ousted for a supposed reluctance to embrace the promotion of the club’s young talent to first-team level, the first instinct was to be bemused by the loss of another promising manager. Yet, considering the success along the road at Falkirk – on the field and in terms of incoming transfer fees – since they were forced to cast experience aside in favour of untried youth, it’s easy to see why board members of other cash-strapped Scottish clubs will be desperate to pitch in the kids in the hope of a cash windfall. If a board has any reason to believe – however misplaced their optimism may be – that a crop of low-rent youngsters could develop into big-money stars, it stands to reason that any manager who doesn’t share their vision won’t be around for long.
• TWO years after being linked with Burnley, then of the English Premier League, John Hughes is now having to train his sights lower as he bids to revive his career following his acrimonious Hibs exit. If he gets the Livi job, Yogi only needs to look to current Finland boss Mixu Paatelainen and John Rankin, outstanding in Dundee United’s win at Ibrox on Sunday, to realise that being written off at Easter Road need not signal a man’s demise.
• IS there anything more self-defeating in football than Hearts’ stance of dropping prized assets who don’t extend their contracts? To highlight the folly of this logic, Robin van Persie, who appears to be running down this contract at Arsenal, would be staring at a period in the stands if he were a Hearts player. Marian Kello has been a fine servant to Hearts and, at 29, has earned the right to a fresh challenge when his contract ends in the summer. Some will argue he should sign a new deal to ensure the Jambos get a fee for him as payback for giving him his big chance. However, the keeper, who will be reluctant to sign a new deal in case Hearts price him out of a move, has already paid the club back with a spate of fine displays. He can continue doing so before he leaves by helping them finish third and making an impact in the Scottish Cup. Hearts are in no position to be wilfully playing a weakened team. If nothing else, the fans shouldn’t be sold short.