ALAN STUBBS insists there is no needle between himself and Mark Warburton – and insists there was never any intention to rile the Rangers manager this week.
The Ibrox boss suggested on Wednesday night that his Hibs counterpart should “keep his mouth shut” after Stubbs said on Tuesday that, with regard to the Ibrox team’s upturn in fortunes this season, “it’s very easy when you’ve got money to spend to bring in better players.”
The Easter Road head coach, however, is adamant that he wasn’t claiming for a second that Warburton has an easy job and insists he was not indulging in pre-match mind games ahead of tomorrow’s clash between the two teams at Ibrox.
Asked if he was surprised by Warburton’s reaction, he replied: “If you listen to my interview, then yes [I am surprised].
“If you take the interview for exactly what it was, then I didn’t say that [he has an easy job]. I think that’s where it was misinterpreted. I just think when you look at the piece, I think it was mischievous journalism. That’s probably a good way of describing it.”
Asked to clarify what exactly he meant with his comments, delivered in an interview with his club’s online TV channel, Stubbs added: “I said that Mark’s done a really good job and brought in some really good players to the squad. And, as a manager, when you have funds available, it’s easier to bring in good players. Is that a fact?
“When you’ve got no money it’s hard and when you’ve got money it’s easier. I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.
“I know myself [as a former Celtic player], there are huge expectations.
“If anyone thinks I would come out and say managing Rangers is easy then, come on. I might look daft, I’m certainly not that daft.
“Managing Hibs is not easy, so managing Rangers is not easy. Managing Celtic is not easy, managing Real Madrid and Man United is not easy.”
Stubbs, who knows Warburton from their time in England, hasn’t spoken to his opposite number in the wake of the furore, but he does not envisage any animosity manifesting itself when the two meet tomorrow.
“I think we have a good relationship,” he said. “I’ll shake his hand before the game and I’m expecting him to give me a drink after the game, and then we’ll have a chat. I always like speaking to Mark.”
Warbuton, meanwhile, said: “It’s gone. We move on from there. I think I made my thoughts very clear. It’s finished now. I know Alan very well and he knows me. It’s water under the bridge. We’ve spoken before, it will be no problem.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs hinted that he believes Hibs have replaced talisman Scott Allan with a player of even greater potential in the shape of on-loan Celtic Liam Henderson. The 19-year-old midfielder joined Hibs on a season-long transfer last week as part of the deal that saw the highly-regarded Allan move to Parkhead on a permanent basis.
Stubbs believes Henderson, who is in line for his first Hibs start at Ibrox tomorrow, has all the credentials to emerge as a “top-class” player.
“I honestly think Liam is going to be a top, top player,” continued the head coach.
“He is different to Scott in every sense of the word. Scotty has fantastic attributes, but so has Liam.
“He gives you a different side to your game when you haven’t got the ball. He gives you that work rate. He has the stamp of a top player.
“You have to see him in training. He knows all the time the different options he has on, an understanding of where he is, what he has got on.
“I am really, really looking forward to – hopefully – helping in his development. He is going to be top class.”