Alan Stubbs today urged Hibs fans to accept striker Dominique Malonga for what he is, insisting the French-born frontman will never be the stereotypical Scottish centre-forward.
Malonga’s derby goal took his tally to five in eight matches since he arrived at Easter Road after the close of the transfer window following hitman Farid El Alagui rupturing his Achilles tendon, an injury which has ruled him out for months.
The 25-year-old’s languid style has divided opinion among the Hibs support, but Stubbs today revealed he’s more than happy with the former Cesena player’s contribution as the Capital club have strung together a run of six matches unbeaten. The head coach said: “Dominique came in and found himself behind everyone in terms of fitness. We had to throw him in at the deep end because of Farid’s situation.
“I am really happy with him. He still has bits to learn but we have to be careful not to judge him for something he is not rather than something he is. Dominique is not going to be one that chases everything down, runs around and bashes centre-backs.
“You have to judge him on what he is good at. He is clever, he has a really good football brain. He has come from a completely different culture, a completely different style and that was always going to take time.
“He needs to get himself into better positions at times. He needs to have more of an impact in certain games, I’m not talking about the derby but in general, and when things do not go your way you have to have an effect on the game in other ways, whether that is closing down or creating opportunities for someone else. But I have been pleased with him. When we get Farid back and have him, Dominique and Jason Cummings then they’ll be right up there with the best in the league.”
Although Hibs endured an uncertain start to the season, Stubbs believes the current unbeaten run and a performance against Championship leaders Hearts which he described as “fantastic and outstanding” is proof the changes put in place at Easter Road following the club’s relegation are beginning to bear fruit.
He said: “We have had to deal with the most of any club from the beginning of the season with the turnaround in players, changing the whole philosophy and mindset.
“It was never going to be a smooth transformation, a changeover that just happened. There were going to be ups and downs but I think the fans can see we are going in the right way. It doesn’t help when your nearest rivals are at the top but that should not cloud your judgment on what we are trying to achieve.
“I have said all along I totally believe in the staff we have got here, they are great, they are fantastic.”