Hibs were today beginning their search for a new manager after Alan Stubbs last night agreed to return to England to take over at Rotherham United.
Former Easter Road boss John Hughes heads the early betting to replace the 44-year-old Liverpudlian, who enjoyed positive negotiations with the English Championship club yesterday and was expected to be unveiled to the media as Neil Warnock’s successor in Yorkshire this afternoon.
“We have agreed terms on a deal for three years and both sides are happy with what’s what,” said Rotherham chairman Tony Stewart. “We don’t expect any obstacles.”
Stubbs leaves Easter Road after two years in charge which culminated in spectacular fashion when he led the club to their first Scottish Cup triumph in 114 years a week past Saturday. That historic 3-2 victory over Rangers at Hampden, in his 100th and final match in charge, helped ease the disappointment at seeing a second-successive bid to win promotion from the Championship fail at the play-off stage a week earlier.
Hibs were keen to hold on to Stubbs, who remained under contract for another season, but, following persistent speculation linking him with jobs in his homeland over the past year or so, it became clear that he was keen to return to England, where his family remained throughout his two years in Edinburgh.
Hibs will receive compensation, believed to be around £100,000, from the Millers. Stubbs was given the all-clear to bring in his own backroom staff, which means first-team coach John Doolan and assistant coach Andy Holden are likely to follow him out of Easter Road.
For Hibs, the job now turns to finding a new management team to lead their third attempt at winning promotion from the Championship next season.
Hughes, who bossed Hibs between 2009 and 2010, is the early 4/1 front-runner with bookmakers after recently leaving Inverness Caledonian Thistle. Other former Easter Road bosses John Collins and Alex McLeish are also prominent on a list of potential candidates that includes former Motherwell and Rangers boss Stuart McCall, ex-Burnley and Bolton boss Owen Coyle, former Cardiff City manager Malky Mackay, ex-Celtic boss Neil Lennon, Ross County chief Jim McIntyre and St Johnstone boss Tommy Wright.
The Easter Road club have been partial to picking left-field candidates in the past, with Tony Mowbray, Colin Calderwood and Stubbs all deemed surprise appointments. This could pave the way for the likes of Ian Cathro, Neil Redfearn, Guillaume Beuzelin or Scot Gemmill to come into contention. Hibs’ board have been preparing for the possibility of losing Stubbs and will be working diligently to compile a shortlist at the earliest opportunity. The first-team squad are not due to return for pre-season training for another three weeks, but, after slack starts proved costly in each of the previous two seasons, the Easter Road hierarchy will be mindful of the need to ensure the new man is installed swiftly to give him the best chance of hitting the ground running.
Odds on next Hibs manager (McBookie.com)
4/1 John Hughes; 5/1 Owen Coyle; 6/1 Stuart McCall; 6/1 Jim McIntyre; 6/1 John Collins; 8/1 Malky Mackay; 10/1 John Doolan; 10/1 Paul Hartley; 10/1 Alex McLeish; 10/1 Tommy Wright; 10/1 Peter Houston; 12/1 Billy Davies; 12/1 Steve Clarke; 12/1 Michael O’Neill; 16/1 Ian Murray; 16/1 Paul Dickov; 16/1 Scot Gemmill; 16/1 Dougie Freedman; 20/1 Phil Parkinson; 20/1 Danny Lennon; 20/1 Billy McKinlay; 20/1 Neil Lennon; 20/1 Derek Adams; 20/1 Mark McGhee; 20/1 Steve Lomas; 25/1 Stephen Kenny; 25/1 Billy Reid; 25/1 Guillaume Beuzelin; 25/1 Ian Cathro; 25/1 Billy Stark; 25/1 Allan Johnston; 25/1 Jackie McNamara; 33/1 Mixu Paatelainen 33/1; Derek Young; 33/1 Jim McInally.