The appointment of Alan Stubbs as Hibs’ new head coach caught me by surprise.
Despite the former Celtic defender’s name being heavily linked over the past few days, he is still someone I had not envisaged would be tasked with the job of restoring Hibs back to the top flight.
However, if Stubbs can achieve that solitary goal of ours and rejuvenate the playing squad with some hard-working and honest pros, then he will gain everyone’s time and support. The decision to install Stubbs at the helm carries a lot of similarities from a decade ago when Tony Mowbray, a man with little experience in the dugout, was unveiled as the new manager. Mowbray brought a style of play which was relished by both the fans and the players and, as far as the early indications go, Stubbs would appear to have a similar philosophy in the way he wants his team to play; an attractive passing game that is geared to winning football matches.
In contrast, though, Stubbs will soon discover that he doesn’t have what Tony Mowbray encountered and that was a crop of talented youngsters who were more than equipped to perform on the big stage. There is also the added pressure this time around of trying to lead us to promotion ahead of likely rivals Hearts and Rangers.
There is no disputing the fact that Stubbs has developed his skills working with some of the best in the business. Six years as a coach under the stewardship of David Moyes was followed by the attributes of Everton’s current manager, Roberto Martinez. Stubbs has made his intentions known in the past that the challenges of being a manager in his own right is an exciting proposition – a chance he now has to prove he can be a success.
Having had the responsibility of a role with one of England’s top clubs since 2008, I am sure Stubbs will have built up some reputable contacts that can be put to great use at Easter Road. It would be fantastic to see us hit the ground running when the new season gets under way in August but those sought-after prizes aren’t handed out until May next year.
The controversy surrounding the club’s off-field matters should be put aside to enable him to settle in. Of course, the Championship is not where the club aspires to play its football but Stubbs is sure to appreciate the history and support of the club from his time spent up here as a player at Celtic.
Despite not being officially unveiled until tomorrow, an opportunity for Stubbs to then express his philosophy on the game, I would like to hear him communicate the need for as many wins as we can that will put us in a position to challenge at the top end of the table. Stubbs has been entrusted with guiding us out of the second tier and is sure to have been heavily grilled over his ability and belief to achieve just that. Yes we want to see attractive football but we only need delve into past eras and the disappointments we have all too often encountered as Hibs supporters. However, the new man at the helm is sure to demand and expect a maturity not only from the players he inherits from last season’s squad, but the individuals he recruits over the next few weeks and months.
There has been a mediocrity hanging around Easter Road for far too long now and this has to be dealt with. It is certainly going to be a real test for Stubbs but I would like to wish him and all his staff the very best in their pursuit of making Hibernian a force once again.