David Moyes was beaming with pride as he watched his former protégé Alan Stubbs etch his name into Hibs folklore by leading the club to Scottish Cup glory for the first time in 114 years.
The Scottish managerial heavyweight remains close to the Easter Road head coach after he had him as a player at Everton for several seasons before giving him his first coaching opportunity when he offered him the chance to take charge of the Toffees’ Under-21s in 2008.
It was a role Stubbs performed for six years before earning himself a crack at the Hibs job in 2014. Moyes believes Saturday’s historic triumph over Rangers has provided the Easter Road board with emphatic vindication for firstly being brave enough to take a chance on the Liverpudlian two years ago and then for keeping faith with him through sticky patches, notably during March and April of this year.
“I’m not half aware of the magnitude of what Stubbsy’s done,” said Moyes, in an exclusive interview with the Evening News. “It’s a massive thing for Hibs and I’m absolutely thrilled for Stubbsy because he’s had a tough time lately. He’s been knocking at the door for a year or two at Hibs but when you go into management it can sometimes take a bit of time to get things right.
“You have to praise the Hibs directors because nowadays people can be too quick to make decisions. They deserve credit for having the foresight to appoint him and also for not panicking when things weren’t going quite so well for Alan. They didn’t act in haste. Sometimes you just need to give people the chance. It’s always best to be patient and give managers time. I’ve got no doubt that Alan will get Hibs promoted next season.”
Having made history at the weekend, Stubbs’ stock is high. The 44-year-old has been regularly linked with jobs in England since arriving in Edinburgh, but Moyes, who earned a crack at the Manchester United job in 2013 after an impressive 11-year reign with Everton, believes Stubbs would be best served by continuing to build on his work at Hibs for the time being.
“I’m a great believer that you shouldn’t be in too much of a hurry to climb the ladder,” he said. “Take your time. I hope Alan will stay and take Hibs up next season. They’ve been to two cup finals this season, which is an incredible achievement in itself for Hibs, and they were unlucky to miss out in the play-offs. I think Alan’s in a good place at the moment. It’s not for me to tell him what to do, but I think he and Hibs are both on to a good thing just now and they should look to stay together and get the club back up.”
Moyes and Stubbs first started working together in March 2002 when the Scot arrived at Everton. By that point, Stubbs was nearing the end of his first season at Goodison Park following his move to his boyhood heroes from Celtic in summer 2001. Moyes relied heavily on the centre-back pairing of Stubbs and David Weir, the current Rangers assistant, until the Scouser left in 2005 for a brief spell at Sunderland. Stubbs returned to Everton in January 2006 for another two-year stint before Moyes eventually offered him his first coaching opportunity at the age of 36. The Scot believes his six years in charge of Everton’s Under-21s were crucial in furnishing him with the required tools to eventually go on and become a legendary Hibs manager.
“As a player, he was a leader and I always felt he had capabilities to go into management,” said Moyes. “He always had something about him. He was an experienced player who had done his coaching courses and badges and he just needed a chance and a place to start. I felt that the Everton Under-21s was as good a place as anywhere for him to start. It was quite an obvious appointment for me. I had no worries about giving him the job.
“It was a great opportunity for him to take a team, to understand young players, take them training every day and watch their development. For me, it was really important that he had that kind of experience before he took a big job like Hibs. As a young coach, a job like that gives you a good start because it gives you a chance to take team talks and allows you to work out what your best qualities are as a coach and decide how you want to manage. Alan would have gained so much from that job.”
Moyes and Stubbs parted ways three years ago when the Scot landed the Manchester United job, but the pair have remained in touch. “I keep in regular contact with Alan,” said Moyes. “I text him congratulating him on Saturday. I bump into him now and again at different things. He’s doing a good job but if he ever needs any help or advice he knows he can pick up the phone anytime. As well as being a player, he was a colleague of mine. I still think of him as one of my players at times, but he’s making his own career as a boss and he’s making a good go of it.”
Stubbs wasn’t the only member of Hibs’ Scottish Cup-winning management team whom Moyes has worked closely with. The Scot was a colleague of Easter Road first-team coach Andy Holden for the entirety of his 11 years at Everton and believes that the Welshman – nicknamed Taff – is a high-quality operator who will have played a major part in equipping Hibs to finally land the Scottish Cup.
“Taff was my assistant when I first went to Everton and he was with me at different levels for the full 11 years I was at the club,” said Moyes. “He really helped me. He picked the team for my first game in charge and was a big part of what I did in my time there. I wouldn’t call him a quiet man – he’s a tough man. He won’t let people off with things or do things in a half-hearted manner.
“Hibs are lucky to have Taff. I’m sure his work won’t go unnoticed at the club. He was really, really important to me. Alan and Taff worked together at Everton so Stubbsy would have known all about his qualities. It was definitely a good choice by Stubbsy to take him to Hibs.”
The only blemish for Moyes as he watched Saturday’s exhilarating Scottish Cup final on television was that Stubbs and Holden’s success meant despair for Rangers No.2 Weir. “Alan and Davie were a great defensive partnership for me at Everton and helped give me a great start there because they were so good together,” said Moyes. “They’re both great guys who were really good to work with, so I had divided loyalties. As much as I was happy for Alan and Taff, I was disappointed for Davie Weir. I really enjoyed the game though. Although it was two Championship teams, I thought they put on a really good game for everybody watching.”