Former Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon believes Dumbarton boss Ian Murray’s Championship experience makes him a perfect fit for the now vacant manager’s role at Hibs.
Ex-Easter Road captain Murray has emerged as the early frontrunner to succeed Terry Butcher, who was axed yesterday after just seven months in charge at Easter Road.
Butcher, who presided over Hibs’ relegation to the Championship during last month’s play-off defeat to Hamilton, was informed of the decision by new chief executive Leeann Dempster and chairman Rod Petrie, who felt his position at the club had become untenable given the circumstances of Hibs’ drop to the second tier.
Now Murray, who spent nearly ten years with the Hibees in two separate spells, has been installed as the bookmakers’ favourite for the Easter Road hot seat.
And former Scotland No. 1 Gordon, pictured, who worked under Murray at the Sons as part of his coaching staff early last year, believes the lifelong Hibs supporter is more than equipped to take on the formidable task of restoring Hibs to the Premiership at the first time of asking.
“Ian’s got very good experience of the Championship so it would give him a bit of a head start I suppose on any of the other candidates,” Gordon said. “He’s done well in that league so I think there are a lot of factors that point to making it a good appointment. He went in there with Dumbarton bottom of the table by quite a distance and, with the same players, turned it round to finish mid-table.
“I have no doubt he would take it if offered,” Gordon continued. “To move up to full-time management rather than two nights a week is a big step up but I’m sure that’s why he took the job at Dumbarton, to prove himself in the short-term with a view to trying to get a bigger position. If you want to get anywhere in management then you have to make that jump and given his links with Hibs, I think it would be a good one at this stage for him.”
Although Gordon spent only the final few months of the 2012/2013 season at the Bet Butler Stadium, the 31-year-old expressed a real admiration for the mutual respect Murray has accomplished between both the management team and his playing staff at the club – a recipe for success by Gordon’s reckoning.
“He’s very calm which is maybe surprising considering the way he used to play,” he said. “He was a very hard player and people may expect him to be a bit of a ranter and a raver in the dressing -room but he’s not. What he has achieved at Dumbarton on limited resources has reflected on the way he treats his players and the relationships he has with them.
“He lets his players go out and express themselves and was never too harsh on the group. He encouraged the defenders to defend and the attackers to go out and show their ability at the top end of the pitch and get goals and I think that shows in the way Dumbarton have played in recent times.
“They score a lot of goals, they also concede a fair few but it’s attacking football which I’m sure the Hibs fans would like to see.”
Hibs have, of course, gone down a similar path before with the appointment of the relatively inexperienced Mixu Paatelainen in January 2008 having had previous managerial stints at both Cowdenbeath and TPS in his homeland of Finland. But the former Hibs favourite didn’t even last 18 months in the job as he departed in May 2009 by mutual consent. Yet the recruitment of Tony Mowbray in 2004 turned out to be a bold but highly successful move by the board.
Asked if experience is what Hibs ultimately need, Gordon, a free agent who has been linked to Celtic, said: “Who knows... it’s difficult to tell. Yes it would be a big step up as Dumbarton are only part-time and he’d need to change the things he does as a manager as well. That’s not to say he couldn’t do it as I’ve seen him in training and on match days themselves.
“I think a big part of it has also been down to his assistant Jack Ross who is an excellent coach in his own right, whether Ian would bring him with him if he indeed does get the job would be interesting to see. But I’m sure they would want to continue their partnership as it has worked very well.
“Hibs will surely still be capable of challenging for at least a play-off spot, if not the Championship itself. I think with a few additions they will be there or thereabouts in what is sure to be a very exciting league and I have no doubt Ian would do a good job.”