Hibs: Lee Johnson explains his '4-8-8-4' recruitment model - and where team needs more bodies

Hibs boss Lee Johnson is targeting a blend of youth and experience in his playing squad, as he dropped more hints about the club’s summer recruitment plans.

Saturday, 4th June 2022, 12:30 pm

The Easter Road side has already brought in veteran goalkeeper David Marshall, and teenaged midfielder Nohan Kenneh but Johnson, speaking to fan podcasts Down The Slope, Hibs.net, Longbangers, and Strong Opinion Hibs, explained that there were players ‘of all ages’ on the club’s shopping list.

“Your recruitment will be the strength and weakness of you as a manager. So we've got to get it right, not just on a technical level but on a human level,” he said.

"We want good people coming through the door who add value to the squad, and to the team spirit. Sometimes that's harder for the younger lads but we need to create an environment where they can step up and bring that personality to the pitch and training ground every day.”

Johnson also expanded on his ‘4-8-8-4’ approach to recruitment and how he wants the core of his first-team squad to look.

"You need to mix experience and youth. The perfect blend for me is 4-8-8-4, so you have four players in the breakthrough category of 16 to 20-years-old; eight in the 20-25 age bracket – that's where your assets are; eight in their prime, 25-30, and then four in the twilight years of 30-35+.

"Getting that balance is really important. You need the seniors to be unbelievable human beings and winners, because they have to spread that through the club. I think David [Marshall] is a key personality in terms of that leading in the dressing room. He has a wealth of experience but he's still a very good goalkeeper. We can't just have great lads; we need them to be great players too.”

The Easter Road boss also revealed where he felt his team needed more bodies – and the main challenge facing the club’s recruitment staff.

Lee Johnson drilled down into his 4-8-8-4 recruitment approach as he spoke to supporters' podcasts. Picture: Hibernian FC

"We're probably short in the prime area, and the problem with prime players is that they are the most expensive. If they're not, there's probably something wrong.

"What we have to do is develop our own. Ryan Porteous is only 23 but in my mind he's that type of prime player coming into the peak of his career and should have a very successful next few years in the game."

Under Johnson, Hibs will continue to add their development squad as well as improving the first-team squad.

"We've got to get that balance but we've got all ages on our lists. Young, in terms of adding development players; the 20-25 year-olds who are emerging talents – they are the ones you can buy early,” he explained.

"They might be on the fringes of Premier League squads or Championship substitutes and they're desperate to play – we can offer them that vehicle to go and be successful at a really good club. That is a market for us.

"Getting that balance in terms of personality and age and demographic becomes really important."