If most Hibs fans felt their club was taking something of a step into the unknown by appointing Pat Fenlon as manager, they still think he is the man to bring happier times to Easter Road – or at least that he will prove more successful than some of his predecessors.
Roddy McDermott, 19, summed up the cautious mood among much of the Hibs support, saying: “I am quite pleased, but the problem is I don’t know if he’s got too much experience. He’s an unfamiliar face, someone I’m not too sure about. We just need to see what he does for us, but I don’t think Hibs can’t do much this season. Our aim is just to reach the top six and have a good run in the Scottish Cup.”
McDermott, a season ticket holder at Easter Road, was glad to see Hibs appoint Fenlon and not former Hearts manager Jim Jefferies, who was also linked with the post. He added that the Irishman should make his first priority to invest in improvements to the team’s defence.
“Our defence is a joke, rotten,” said McDermott. “Some players just can’t keep a straight line at the back and I think we need a stronger, more confident player.”
Fellow fan Willie Mitchell disagreed, however, stressing that there is no need for Fenlon to recruit heavily on the playing side because the new boss has the character to bring the best out of the current crop.
“He’s done not bad over in Ireland and I think he could be as big a success over here because it’s as good as the Scottish league over there,” said Mitchell, 53.
“They have a good lot of youngsters at Hibs, but they’re not getting a chance to come through. Give them a chance to come through and we won’t need to bring any new players in. Hopefully, the new manager can bring the best out of the players already there.”
Sam Crowe, 17, echoed those sentiments, saying Fenlon could galvanise the existing squad if he proved more inspiring than the previous incumbent of the top job at Hibs, Colin Calderwood.
“I don’t think Colin Calderwood seemed to get players up for the game – they need someone who can shout at them, tell players what to do and do it now,” said Crowe, who implored the club to retain Billy Brown, who has served as interim boss in recent weeks, as assistant manager. “I’m not really bothered who the manager is, as long as they bring success to the club. I would prefer an experienced manager, and I think he’s quite experienced. He’s not a new manager like John Hughes or John Collins – I think he’s going to be a good signing.”
Supporter Bill Lee said that the current campaign, in which Hibs have sat perilously close to the relegation zone, was a write-off but that Fenlon could inspire the players to greater things in his first full term as manager.
“If they can get away from the relegation zone and into the top six [this season], I think they can do well next season,” said Lee, 60. “They’ve got the players there – they’re just weren’t playing for the manager but hopefully they’ll play for this one.”
Meanwhile, Craig Pearson, 19, hopes Fenlon will prove more people-friendly than predecessor Calderwood but added that the on-field product matters most.
“I would say his experience in a different league might help him, but we’ll have to wait and see,” said Pearson. “Calderwood was useless. Hopefully. Fenlon speaks more to the fans, but mostly it’s about putting a winning team on the park.”
Lapsed supporter William Greenfield was unhappy with the appointment. He said: “It is a big step backwards to appoint someone like Fenlon, a guy with no experience of Scottish football. I was a season ticket holder for 30 years but I am not any longer. I no longer want to support Petrie and his board making penny-pinching decisions and not putting a product on the park. Why appoint Fenlon when we have one of the most experienced guys in Scottish football at the club now in Billy Brown? The irony is, and it’s almost heartbreaking for me, is that we have one of the best set-ups in the UK, a great stadium and a magnificent training ground. I fear this appointment is wrong and will end up wasting another large chunk of cash, just like Calderwood’s appointment.”