Guillaume Beuzelin spent the last close-season hoping to become part of Hibs’ management team. Four months down the line, the Easter Road favourite finds himself trying to put a spanner in the works of the men who were picked ahead of him.
The cultured Frenchman was touted by his ex-Hibs team-mates Michael Stewart and Ivan Sproule for involvement in the new managerial set-up following Terry Butcher’s dismissal at the end of May. Having spent the previous three years cutting his coaching teeth with youngsters at Falkirk and Hibs, Boozy informed the Easter Road hierarchy of his interest in becoming a more prominent member of staff. The 35-year-old was left disappointed, however, when Alan Stubbs was appointed in June and brought in his own backroom team from down south.
“I felt I was ready to take the step forward and start coaching in the adult game,” he told the Evening News. “I told Hibs I was ready to step up but they decided to bring in different people ahead of me. I was hoping to be involved but it’s gone now.”
Despite being overlooked, Beuzelin bears no ill-will to the Easter Road club or Stubbs, whom he described as “a very nice man” from his meetings with Hibs’ head coach in the few weeks’ crossover they had at East Mains.
The former midfielder was headhunted by his old Hibs team-mate Ian Murray in July when he required a new assistant manager at Dumbarton following Jack Ross’s departure to become Hearts’ Under-20s coach. “Hibs were happy for me to stay on at youth level but when Ian came in and asked me, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to go to first-team level,” he continued. “We played together when I first went to Hibs [in 2004] and then when he came back [in 2008] we had a few months together before I went to Coventry. Even when we weren’t together at Hibs, we stayed in contact through the years. I wouldn’t say we were best friends or anything like that but we’ve always been good companions. I was delighted when he asked me to join him on the coaching staff. It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m very thankful.”
Since being reunited with his old mate three months ago, Beuzelin has been taken aback by the professionalism Murray has managed to instil in his part-timers despite the obvious restraints of training only two evenings a week at Toryglen. “We train on half a park on a Tuesday and a quarter of a park on a Thursday, with people playing 5-a-sides around about us, so it’s very difficult,” explained Beuzelin. “Because we only train twice a week, it can be very difficult to work properly, like I always did as a player. The boys are terrific, though. We manage to work hard. Even though we are part-time, we are very fit and want to do everything properly and as professionally as possible. The gaffer is very good for that. When he came to the club, he made a lot of changes and even though we are a small club with a small budget, he makes the most of everything. He’s very good and has very high standards.
“We have Colin McLelland, my old physio at Hibs, who does sports science for us and he gives all the boys programmes to take away. They follow them and we are very happy with their fitness. In the last few games, we have scored goals late in games, which shows how fit we are.
“Even though me and Ian are part-time, we speak a lot together during the week just like any normal manager and assistant. At youth level, you are more focused on development, so it’s exciting for me to have an input in team selection and preparing for the opposition and everything like that.”
After starting the season with three straight league defeats, Dumbarton have climbed to seventh in the table – just a point behind Hibs – on the back of a five-game unbeaten run in which they have conceded only two goals. “We conceded far too many goals earlier in the season but we have improved defensively,” said Beuzelin. “We still need to find our form offensively because we don’t score enough goals.”
Their recent resilience will be put to the ultimate test over the next fortnight, with their upcoming fixtures reading Hibs away, Hearts away, Rangers home. “The boys are looking for that – they want a run like that,” said Beuzelin. “Most of these players have been playing in the Championship for many years, so to play against those three big teams in the league brings a lot of excitement. Hibs, Hearts, Rangers – they are full-time; we are Dumbarton, we are just a part-time team, so the pressure is all on them, not on us. We have nothing to lose.”
The Sons have already shown they can be a dangerous opponent in such circumstances. As well as being the only team to take points off league leaders Hearts, Dumbarton gave Hibs an almighty fright in the League Cup in August when they led 2-0 with just 12 minutes left before succumbing to a storming fightback and losing 3-2.
“It was very close in the League Cup – we only lost in the last minute, so hopefully we can get a better result this Saturday,” said Beuzelin. “We are just one point behind Hibs, which is funny to say. They had a great result against Rangers and they have done okay in their home games but they’ve been a bit hot and cold. I think from the start Alan wanted to play three at the back but he didn’t have the personnel until he got Liam Fontaine in from down south. It’s worked for him so far, so hopefully we can deal with that. It is unusual for me wanting Hibs to lose but I’m a professional first and I want Dumbarton to be the best.”
There is a big former Hibs contingent in the same boat. As well as Beuzelin, Murray and McLelland, players Scott Taggart, David van Zanten and Colin Nish, who doubles up as the Sons’ Under-20s coach, all had time at Hibs. “There is a strong Hibs connection here,” noted Beuzelin. “We talk about Hibs a lot.”
Beuzelin juggles life as Dumbarton’s No.2 with his day job at the Edusport Academy – a scheme based at both Ainslie Park and Ravenscraig where French youngsters combine football training with learning English. He also helps the SFA with their 2020 Development Centres on a Friday.
With so much commuting between cities, the ambitious coach is glad he and his Scottish wife Kayleigh – whom he met in his time as a Hibs player – chose Falkirk as their base. “When I finished my career [in 2010], I knew I wanted to be a coach but I didn’t know at which club, so I picked a house right in the middle of Scotland.
“I’ve been working in Edinburgh and Glasgow, so Falkirk has been perfect for me. I’m very settled in Scotland and very happy at Dumbarton.”