How the leading candidates stack up in hunt for new Hibs manager
The race to become the next Hibs manager is well under way, with no shortage of names thrown into the mix and applications already landing on Hibs chief Ben Kensell’s desk. Here, we assess the chances of the main contenders.
Two days have now passed since Jack Ross was sacked, with John Potter following him out of the door. David Gray has been placed in temporary charge, and will take charge of today’s Premiership match away to St Mirren.
It looks like he will still be taking the team when Dundee visit Easter Road on Tuesday, and could be given a shot at winning the Premier Sports Cup too.
It’s difficult to see a cup final being the new manager’s first game in charge. That said, Hibs don’t want to wait too long.
The January transfer window opens soon, so they need someone to come in and do some wheeling and dealing right away in an effort to strengthen the squad.
Owner Ron Gordon will make the final call, entrusting chief executive Ben Kensell to do the groundwork. So what are they looking for? What is the profile.
The new man will have to fit into the relatively new club structure, with no sporting director. That means concentrating on first-team matters, relying on Kensell to deal with contracts and transfers and leaving Steve Kean to run the academy.
He will be expected to give young academy players a chance to break through and he must have an attacking, exciting style of play to bring back the fans.
Personality might be a factor. They club hierarchy have been disappointed with attendances of late, so a box office candidate cannot be ruled out. The new man could be different, but is unlikely to be dull.
But, as ever in football, the main thing is a manager who can get results. Gordon wants Hibs to be finishing consistently in the top four of the Premiership, so they need a guy who knows how to win.
There’s every chance a left-field appointment that has yet to be quoted will come from out of the blue. As for those who have been linked, this is how the candidates shape up.
Derek McInnes: obvious choice
Understood to be interested, he knows how to finish in the top four, he is available and could hit the ground running. Style of play and lack of goals at Aberdeen could count against him, but more ticks than crosses.
Callum Davidson: outside chance
Delivering a historic cup double for St Johnstone last season raised his stock, but Saints’ league form this season has been poor. With compensation required to get him, there may be more exciting options out there.
Neil Lennon: if only
He is box office and would be popular among large sections of the Hibs support. But while he might feel he has unfinished business at Easter Road, it is understood that a job in English would be his preferred option.
Shaun Maloney: young pretender
Currently assistant manager of the Belgium national side, he is a highly-regarded up-and-coming coach who may be looking for an opportunity to be his own man. Whether he would be genuinely interested is anyone’s guess.
Raphael Wicky: dark horse
The former Swiss international midfielder, who won the Swiss league and cup double with Basel in 2017, had two good years in Major League Soccer with the Chicago Fire, but was fired in September. Ron Gordon will be aware.
Jim Goodwin: can’t see it
Is quoted at 8/1 by the bookies and has done a very fine job at St Mirren, and Alloa before that, but there’s nothing to suggest that he really fits the profile Hibs are looking for. Probably not worth forking out on compensation to get him.
David Gray: lucky charm
The 2016 cup hero, just 33, will be well backed by the fans as caretaker. If he wins the Premier Sports Cup and the derby … it would be hard not to give him it. Has not ruled himself out either, but may not feel he is ready for it.
Alex Neil: fallen favourite
The 40-year-old Scot, out of work since leaving Preston North End in March, wan an early favourite for good reason. But is settled down south, has unfinished business in the English Championship and is holding out for another crack at it.
Paul Lambert: dull option
The 52-year-old has more than 600 games under his belt as a manager in England and left Ipswich in February after failing to mount a promotion push in League One. Not a candidate that Hibs fans are getting excited about.
Ronny Deila: pie in the sky
The former Celtic boss is 90 minutes away from securing Major League Soccer glory as New York City close in on their first ever title. Will be on Ron Gordon’s radar, but unlikely to find Hibs more appealing than what he has.
Daniel Farke: going elsewhere
Having won the English Championship twice during Kensell’s time at Carrow Road, the German is connected and very highly regarded but is setting his sights much higher than Hibs and is about become the new boss of Besiktas.
Alan Stubbs: nostalgic no-hoper
Famously ended 114 years of hurt by winning the Scottish Cup at Hibs in 2016, but flopped at Rotherham and St Mirren, lasting only nine games and eight games each. Hasn’t had a job since leaving the Paisley club in September 2018.
Steve Kean: key role already
The former Blackburn Rovers boss, 54, has been brought in specifically to do the run and overhaul the Hibs academy job. He would have been named interim boss if he was being considered as a realistic chance by the Hibs hierarchy.
Gordon Strachan: past his best
Always quoted when the Hibs job comes up but, at 64, the chance to lead the club he supported as a boy has probably passed him by. Dundee’s technical director since the summer of 2019, he is more of an upstairs man these days.
James McPake: not ready
Seems to have been quoted because he is a former Easter Road player. Young and improving, he is highly regarded for getting Dundee promoted but hasn’t done enough yet to suggest he could quickly turn Hibs into a top four team.
Scott Brown: another time maybe
Maybe one day, but not now. The former Hibs midfielder and Celtic skipper is enjoying playing too much to take this on. Aberdeen are giving him the platform to play and learn his trade as a coach at his own pace and he’s not been there long.
John Carver: wrong fit
The Scotland assistant boss apparently wants to return to full-time football, but has forged his reputation as a talented coach or assistant rather than the main man who calls the shots. Surely doesn’t want to give up on Scotland at this stage.
Neil Warnock: surely not
It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if the 73-year-old applied and he hankers after a shot at Scottish football, but his charisma often comes with controversy. Box office? Yes. But his direct style of play isn’t what Hibs are after.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær: fantasy land
Was priced at 100/1 by the bookies. The Norwegian doesn’t need the money or the stress after what he endured at Manchester United. Will be enjoying a break and is not going to swap Old Trafford for Easter Road any time soon, if ever.
Craig Levein: only kidding
Only mentioned for a laugh, the former Hearts and Scotland boss is now helping out at Highland League Brechin City and is a regular pundit on BBC Sportsound, so he will have an opinion on who should get the Hibs job.