Alan Stubbs was today finally set to be named the new boss of Hibs after agreeing a two-year deal with the Easter Road club.
However, the former Celtic defender will arrive in Edinburgh to begin a search for a right-hand man as David Unsworth, his assistant as he coached Everton Under-21s last season, opted to stay on Merseyside. Unsworth had been widely expected to join Stubbs to form a new management team at Hibs after the sacking of Terry Butcher following a calamitous second half of the season which culminated in the Capital club being relegated to the Championship where they face a formidable challenge to win promotion at the first time of asking with both Hearts and Rangers also vying for the title. But while Unsworth, who worked as a coaching course assessor for the SFA at Largs earlier this month, was willing to consider a switch north of the border where he had talks with Kilmarnock when the manager’s job was available a year ago, he will now stay on at Goodison Park.
Hibs had hoped to have Stubbs in place as a depleted squad reported to their East Mains training centre for the start of pre-season training yesterday but the opening session, attended by just 15 first-team players, was taken by under-20s coach James McDonaugh, a contingency plan which had previously been put in place as new chief executive Leeann Dempster began the hunt for Butcher’s successor.
The delay in finalising the finer details of 42-year-old Stubbs’ first managerial contract – he became firm favourite to land the job in the face of stiff opposition almost a week ago – may have been frustrating for all concerned but, according to club sources, there was nothing “sinister or untoward” behind the later than expected announcement, the explanation being his agent John Morris was at the World Cup requiring negotiations to be completed by phone and email.
The Evening News understand Hibs were set to formally confirm Stubbs’ appointment today with the new boss travelling to meet his squad before being publicly introduced within the next day or two.