Hibs chief executive Leeann Demspter today revealed she was delighted to see Alan Stubbs’ name among the 70 applicants for the vacant manager’s post at Easter Road as she had marked the Everton Under-21 coach down as one to watch four years ago.
In a two-and-a-half hour interview, the 42-year-old projected himself as the “stand-out candidate,” the one she could recommend to the Easter Road board to take Hibs, still reeling from relegation, back to where every fan believes they belong.
In fact, Stubbs had impressed long before the interview even began, demonstrating his desire to earn his first tilt at management by completing a commitment with the children’s charity cancer Clic Sargent in Glasgow, then motoring to Manchester where she and head of football operations George Craig had been meeting some of his rivals for the job.
Dempster said: “The commitment Alan showed that day was fantastic. We were pleased to meet him and I think we have made a great choice. We had more than 40 applications initially, that rose to well over 70 and when you add in the people who play football manager it probably went to 100. But we got it down to a relatively short list and when we met Alan there was definitely a rapport. He was definitely on the same page as us in terms of determination and enthusiasm.
“It’s important that as chief exec I work well with the manager and I definitely got that sense. I was absolutely delighted when Alan’s name came forward because I was well aware of what he was doing down at Everton and had been aware since probably 2010. If you are in my position you are always looking at who the next coach is going to be, who will be the next manager.
“Whether it’s new support staff, new players, whoever, you are always looking for new people, new ideas. In the two-and-a-half hours we had together it was obvious we shared the vision of the direction we want to take the club in. It’s about being proactive rather than reactive, of having good support staff in place, of trying to put a structure in place that probably exists in England in terms of strength conditioning, sports science and analysis, but perhaps in Scotland not so rigorously on a full-time basis.
“I think we have made a great choice, I think he is ready for this post. I’ll work closely with him but let him get on with what he is good at, which is on the football and coaching elements, dealing with players.”
Dempster believes the Hibs support will be equally taken with Stubbs as they watch him at work in the coming weeks and months. She said: “Listen to his comments in his press conference and I think any Hibs fan would be impressed.
“He handled the situation really well, all the questions, the style of play, what we want to achieve, to win games and get us out of this league and back into the Premiership. I think I said last week we are on a mission. That’s not changed. He is definitely on board with real determination.
“I think Hibs fans have had a bit of time to reflect. If you had asked us at this point last seson did we think we’d be in the championship then, no. If you support your football club you get upset about these things, but we cannot pretend it has not happened.”