Alan Stubbs: My full focus is on Hibs’ promotion charge

Alan Stubbs was linked with the Bolton job last weekend. Pic: SNS

Alan Stubbs was linked with the Bolton job last weekend. Pic: SNS

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Alan Stubbs today insisted the latest speculation regarding his future won’t distract him from his ambition to return Hibs to the Premiership and to land the Scottish Cup for the first time in 114 years.

Managerless Bolton Wanderers, where Stubbs spent seven years as a player, have become the latest club to be linked with the Easter Road boss who, earlier in the season, was being spoken of possibly moving to Reading, Celtic and Plymouth.

But in pointing out he can’t stop such gossip, Stubbs insisted even a Premier League job wouldn’t deflect his attention away from what he hopes will prove to be a successful end to the season in Edinburgh with tonight’s play-off match against Falkirk his sole focus.

The Easter Road head coach, who highlighted the fact he still has another year on his contract in the Capital, said: “I’ve had speculation already this season, it’s the crazy world we live in.

“I can’t stop it. It’s the same speculation that said I was under pressure a couple of weeks ago. That’s football. It would take a lot more than that to distract me when you’ve still got the opportunity to achieve what you’ve wanted to achieve all season.

“Even if I was being linked with a Premier League job, it wouldn’t distract me whatsoever.”

Stubbs was adamant that having taken over when Hibs had hit their lowest ebb 
following the shock of relegation two years ago, he remains determined to see the job out. He said: “We have made strides in my time at the club.

“I don’t think there’s any denying that, from when I walked in to where we are now. I’d like to achieve something with the team. All we’ve done is give ourselves an opportunity and I’d rather be in the position that we’ve achieved something in two weeks’ time. They’ve got a good opportunity to do it.

“I’ve got a year left on my contract. You know what football’s like. I’m not even looking at next week just now, we’re literally taking it from day to day right now.”

Stubbs admitted it was “strange” to think that the next fortnight will decide whether this has been a good or bad season for Hibs, but insisted that rather than make him nervous he was excited, adding: “Honours are normally given out around this time. The fact we’ve still got an opportunity to do it is a good sign.”

Having, he feels, answered Hibs’ critics following defeat in their first play-off match against Raith Rovers by winning the second game to set up another double header with the Bairns to decide which side will face Kilmarnock to fight for the right to top fight football next season, Stubbs believes tonight’s game and the return at Falkirk on Friday will be as closely fought as any of the matches between the two teams this season.

And he played down any 
suggestion that there might 
be bad blood between him 
and Peter Houston, the two having traded verbal spats throughout with the Falkirk boss, who has constantly 
highlighted the bigger budget his rival enjoys, adamant 
that despite his side finishing in second ahead of Hibs, the pressure is all on the Edinburgh club.

Stubbs said: “Peter and I have a good relationship, fantastic. We are two managers who want to achieve the same thing. It probably means it’s inevitable that sometimes we will lock horns. He wants what I want and I want what he wants. Unfortunately, there is always going to be one who misses out on whatever it is, and I do not want that to be me.

“I’m glad I have double the budget if that is the case. I am not one to get uptight about it. Rangers have got a bigger budget than me, Celtic have a bigger budget than Rangers. You have to make do with that budget and try and get the most value you can. That’s part and parcel of it.”