Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today revealed his search for new players began before he was even interviewed for the Easter Road job.
Stubbs arrived to put his case to chief executive Leeann Dempster and head of football operations George Craig with a list of possible targets, well aware of the need to act quickly at a club left with just 15 first-team players following the departure of just as many in the wake of relegation to the Championship.
The new head coach, Dempster and Craig will be working closely together to strengthen the squad ahead of the first league game at home to Livingston on August 9, Stubbs having been promised he will have a “good budget” in comparison to Hibs’ competitors.
Today, Stubbs, who expects to name his assistant on Monday, with former Everton reserve coach Andy Holden favourite, admitted that signing a goalkeeper – Hibs have none after Ben Williams, Sean Murdoch and Paul Grant were all released by his predecessor Terry Butcher – and a right-back were among his priorities.
Unsurprisingly, he acknowledges the need for speed but, he disclosed, he had begun making plans even as he added his name to the lengthy list of candidates applying for the vacancy caused by Butcher’s sacking. He said: “When I spoke to Leeann in the interview I had already sounded out players. There was no point in me doing that tomorrow because that could be too late.
“I had already spoken about some players I want to bring in. I’d spoken to agents about players that could potentially come in. You have to be be ahead of the game and, obviously, there are certain areas that are more of a target, more of an urgency – goalkeepers, a right-back, things like that.”
Stubbs was unwilling to state exactly how many players he anticipates arriving but, while adding that he hopes it would be “very quickly”, he insisted he is aiming to bring in the very best he can, adamant that no-one will be signed simply to fill a shirt.
The former Everton Under-21 coach said: “I don’t want to put a figure on it, but I want a squad that is going to be competitive. I want competiton for places, not just numbers. The players that come in have to be as good or better than we have. We have some talented players here, but it’s about raising the bar. I really want to raise the bar, not just from playing standards but overall professional standards.
“I have been lucky that as a player I played at the highest level and in my coaching career I’ve coached players at the highest level. I want to instil that here.”
Stubbs revealed he is determined to see every player who dons a green-and-white shirt realise his full potential. The 42-year-old said: “You only get one chance in football and you have to give it your best shot. If you think ability alone is going to get you there then I am afraid you are wrong because you have to apply yourself in the right way, not just on the field but off it.
“You might get away with it for six months or a year on ability but, before long, it will catch up on you. I don’t want people in my dressing-room who look in the mirror and say ‘I should have listened’. I want them to grab the bull by both horns, to give it their best shot.
“I’ve come across lots of players in my career who should have been better than they were, who should have done better and I don’t want that.”