SCOTT ALLAN has spent his entire career searching for the kind of contentment he’s found at Hibs this season. As a result, he is in no rush to scarper through the Easter Road exit door any time soon.
A guarantee of regular first-team football; a manager who understands what makes him tick; a feeling that he is genuinely valued by the club paying his wages, and the fact he has his family and friends close by, have all played a part in the midfielder producing his most sustained level of form to date.
The 23-year-old has started 16 matches for Hibs since joining from West Bromwich Albion in the summer; only in his first loan stint at Portsmouth, when he made 15 starts at the end of the 2011/12 season, has he managed anywhere near as much game time for one club. Allan has been an ever-present in the starting XI since the 4-0 win away to Livingston in mid-October and has emerged as his side’s standout player in that period, to the extent where he was recently described by head coach Alan Stubbs as the best player in the Championship.
“I don’t know if it’s the best I’ve played in my career, but it’s certainly the most consistent I’ve been,” he said of his eye-catching start to his time at Hibs. “I’ve had some good games here and there in the past, but I seem to be doing it more consistently now.
“I’m back home [living in Glasgow], working under the right manager and part of a good squad. I’m really settled and playing every week. That’s all I’ve wanted for the past few years, a good season, playing week in, week out.
“It’s certainly worked out well for me so far. It was nice to hear the manager describe me as the best player in the Championship, but I just want to keep progressing and see where I can take the club come the end of the season.”
Allan was linked with a move to Rangers in the summer, but ended up at Hibs after being wooed by what Stubbs had to say. Second-placed Rangers arrive at Easter Road for today’s crunch Championship clash seven points clear of the third-place Hibees, but Allan has no regrets about the decision he made back in July. “I’m just happy to be playing my football at Hibs and progressing under the gaffer,” he said. “A move to Rangers was talked about, but as soon as I spoke to the gaffer here, it was a no-brainer to come to here. The manager’s plans for the future and how I could progress and develop under him was the biggest factor in me coming to Hibs.
“The last couple of months, I’ve been beginning to get back to the form I was at when I was playing regularly before. I’ve managed to get myself a few assists so I’m just hoping to add a few more goals to my game. I didn’t have a pre-season, so getting my fitness up was the main thing for me at the start of the season. A run of games is crucial for any player.”
Allan may be happy at Easter Road, where he is contracted until summer 2016, but he still feels he has an itch to scratch when it comes to playing in England. The midfielder’s move to West Brom almost three years ago didn’t go to plan, but he admits he would love another crack at proving himself at the top level.
“I definitely feel I’ve got unfinished business down south,” he said. “I think every player wants to play in England week in, week out. It’s a better level down there than it us up here and it’s much more competitive.
“If I stay consistent, you never know what can happen, but right now I’m just happy playing my football at Hibs.”
Although Allan’s two-and-a-half-year adventure in England didn’t pan out as he had hoped, he believes the trials and tribulations of being a lonely young boy away from home, not playing a single first-team match for his parent club, and being punted out on loan on four separate occasions, helped make him a more resilient character.
“I’d only played eight or nine times for Dundee United but West Brom had obviously watched me a number times for and wanted to take a chance on me,” he said. “I think anybody would have done the same as me if they got the chance. In football, you never know what’s going to happen, so you’ve got to take the chance when it comes. It could easily have worked out differently. For example, the manager that signed me [Roy Hodgson] left after just three months of me being there. Some of it was just unfortunate.
“I got 15 games in the Championship [on loan at Portsmouth] at the end of my first season down there. That was a good experience for me even though they were in administration.
“Generally, I felt I learnt more when it wasn’t going so well. I probably learned more off the pitch than I did on it in England. I learned how to live on my home away from home and how to react when things are not going your way.
“If I could do anything different, I’d have brought my family down more often, especially when things weren’t going so well. When it’s not going well, you’ve got a lot to think about.”
Allan hasn’t had that problem of late. He has started ten consecutive matches and helped Hibs climb to third in the Championship and reach the fifth round of the Scottish Cup. The next two matches, against Rangers today and Hearts next weekend, give Allan’s side the chance to make ground on the division’s top two.
“Obviously, Hearts have been really consistent and we need to put a run like that together and turn our draws into wins and see where it takes us,” he said. “It would be good to win our next two games but we need to take the Rangers game first and try and get three points there and then look at Hearts. We want to be closer to the top, so a win against Rangers would be a real confidence-booster going into the derby.”