Hibs were today putting in place the final details on the deal to make Alan Stubbs the Easter Road outfit’s latest manager.
The 42-year-old had been widely expected to be unveiled as the Capital club’s seventh boss in eight years as a depleted squad of just 15 players reported back today for the start of pre-season training.
But with his agent John Morris at the World Cup, negotiations have been conducted by phone and e-mail, thus delaying the former Celtic defender putting pen to paper on a two-year contract. Talks have also centred around the recruitment of David Unsworth, Stubbs’ No.2 with Everton’s Under-21s last season, becoming his assistant in Edinburgh.
Stubbs is believed to have impressed new Hibs chief executive Leeann Dempster as she whittled down a list of more than 40 applications following the sacking of Terry Butcher after the former England captain oversaw a disastrous run of results which culminated in relegation to the Championship.
Battling in a league which also contains Rangers and Hearts but carries only one automatic promotion place, however, didn’t deter the highly regarded Stubbs, who has made no secret of his desire to become a manager in his own right; the former Bolton, Everton, Sunderland and Derby County star having been interviewed for the post at Goodison Park vacated by David Moyes last summer only to lose out to Roberto Martinez.
Stubbs is believed to have faced strong competition from former Hibs assistant manager Mark Venus while ex-Rangers winger Peter Huistra was said to have been a surprise applicant as was former Chelsea and Holland striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
Having convinced Dempster he shares his vision for Hibs’ future – the “creation of individual development plans for elite young players to assist transition from academy to first team” – Stubbs, who has helped England star Ross Barkley among others make that progression at Everton, knows he will have to hit the ground running when he does, eventually, arrive in Edinburgh.
The squad that the Under-20 coach James McDonaugh began putting through their paces at East Mains this morning boasted no goalkeepers with Ben Williams, Sean Murdoch and Paul Grant among the 14 released by Butcher, making that area a No. 1 priority for Stubbs who, no doubt, will already have begun identifying potential sigings as he seeks to rapidly make up lost ground on both Hearts and Rangers who have already strengthened.