Former Hibs hero eyes Easter Road return after launching bid to become new director of football

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Mixu Paatelainen is looking to return to Easter Road for the fourth time after applying to become the club’s new director of football.

The Evening News understands there has yet to be official contact between the two parties but the 56-year-old has thrown his hat into the ring.

Hibs are in the process of whittling down a shortlist to try and find the best candidate following a structural review at the club which saw the announcement of the wish to bring in a director of football last month.

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The search was put on the back burner towards the end of January as Hibs sought to bring in players to improve Lee Johnson’s squad while also seeing some depart Easter Road, including star centre-back Ryan Porteous who joined Watford.

Former Hibs striker and manager Mixu Paatelainen as a guest at Easter Road last year. Picture: SNSFormer Hibs striker and manager Mixu Paatelainen as a guest at Easter Road last year. Picture: SNS
Former Hibs striker and manager Mixu Paatelainen as a guest at Easter Road last year. Picture: SNS

CEO Ben Kensell recently told the Down the Slope podcast: "In terms of timing we had a very busy January window we knew was pivotal. And it was pivotal for a couple of reasons, yes protecting the players we wanted to keep at the club, removing some of them, bringing some quality in but also assuring we position ourselves in the best possible way for the summer so we can give a director of football and Lee as much opportunity to bring in the quality we're gonna need to compete.

"That focus on the window had to be the sole priority which then allowed people to naturally come to us and tell us they were interested in the role.

"They did in their numbers, and now we've built that candidate brief, we've got some interest in the role and can now start having proper conversations you need to have about what the fit looks like.

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"Those conversations have started already. It's a good list, Lee and I are across the list of people who could be available and we need to bring that down to a credible shortlist and appoint as soon as possible."

Paatelainen was very popular in two spells as a player, including netting a hat-trick in the famous 6-2 victory over Hearts in October 2000.

He returned in January 2008 to take over as manager of the club following the departure of John Collins the previous year. Though the club managed to finish in the top six two years running, he was let go in the summer of 2009.

Paatelainen would later return to Scotland for a successful one-season stay with Kilmarnock, though he would later come back once more for what proved to be a disastrous spell in charge of Dundee United, who he failed to save from relegation.

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Meanwhile, former Hibs centre-back James McPake is reportedly a candidate for the vacant manager’s job at Motherwell. The Fir Park club are looking for a new head coach after Stevie Hammell’s departure from the top job following Saturday’s Scottish Cup defeat to Raith Rovers.

McPake, 38, has led Dunfermline Athletic to the top of League One this season after being sacked, in harsh circumstances having won his last two games, by Dundee last term.

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