'I knew making the top six was going to be 50-50' - ex-Hibs boss details life at Easter Road

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The ex-Celtic star briefly managed Hibs and described the experience as a learning curve

The ex-Hibs manager Shaun Maloney has recently opened up about his time at Easter Road, describing his stint at the side as everything he wanted in his first managerial job in an article for the Coaches Voice.

Maloney, 40, teamed up with the Hibees in 2021 following his role with the under-20 development squad at Celtic and later the Belgian national team. The former Celtic star lasted only four months before receiving the sack but has described his stint in Leith as a huge learning curve and has taken his experiences to his new role at Wigan Athletic.

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Maloney played as an attacking midfielder for Celtic from 2001-2007 making well over 100 appearances for the club . The winger then found fame south of the border as he joined Aston Villa for one season before returning north of the border once again from 2008-2011.

Shaun Maloney during his stint at Easter Road. Hibs reached the Scottish Cup semi-finalShaun Maloney during his stint at Easter Road. Hibs reached the Scottish Cup semi-final
Shaun Maloney during his stint at Easter Road. Hibs reached the Scottish Cup semi-final | SNS Group

The winger went on to play 215 matches across all competitions for the Hoops and would go on to then play for Wigan Athletic, Chicago Fire in the MLS and Hull City. The made 47 Scotland appearances, scoring seven international goals before he received the phone call to head up the coaching staff at Easter Road. "It was December 2021 when I got a call from the chief executive at Hibs, who was with the owner’s son", Maloney explained. "I knew the club from my time as a player at Celtic. I loved their history, their support and the city of Edinburgh – and I loved how they sold their vision of the role to me. It was everything I wanted in a first managerial job. "I learned so much in my time there. I learned that I absolutely love the role, and that I love working with players as a manager. The intensity of working with the players every day, a game every three or four days, and managing the different individuals within a group. "Our objective was to try and make the top four in the league. We made the semi finals of the Scottish Cup, which was a really good achievement, but we missed out narrowly on the top six in our final game before the split. That led to me leaving in April 2022."

Maloney went on to detail his awareness of where the weaknesses in the squad and admitted those deficiencies made it harder to imagine the club could reach the top six, confessing he knew the end was be nigh.

"I was very aware of where the team was deficient, so the way the squad was meant I knew that making the top six was going to be 50-50. But I also knew what was needed to reach the top four. "Once the club made their decision", the ex-Winger added, "my biggest concern became the staff I’d brought with me. My assistant Gary Caldwell, for example, had left Manchester City, and I was disappointed for them all that they never got to see how good Hibs could be. They needed a lot of work, but it could have been a really enjoyable club to work for. "After we left, my staff and I spent many hours reviewing everything before we met up for three days to reflect, in detail, on our time there. There were so many things to discuss, but I was very clear on the team and players. I knew why we were one of the best teams in the league, defensively – behind only Celtic and Rangers – and why we were really struggling in attack." "The big thing I had to take away was about how I could have made the team more efficient and clinical in the final third – the areas we could get into, and the numbers we could attack with."

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It's clear that the brief time Maloney spent at Hibs as had a much larger impact on his current managerial style and he has recounted how the poor attacking performances displayed by his squad back in 2022 is something he strives to ameliorate. "We had some really young attacking players – we’d sold Martin Boyle, our best attacking player, and our number nine Kevin Nisbet, a Scotland international, suffered a season-ending injury – but that could happen to me again. So the level and detail of the work will always need to keep improving to keep whichever team I’m managing even more creative and attacking."

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