Hibs verdict: Stability and progress needed as long old season creeps to an unsatisfying end
"It's hard to describe this season. It just seems so long now.”
Paul McGinn probably speaks for everyone of a Hibs persuasion as he reflects on a long old campaign that still isn’t finished.
The last time Hibs changed managers in the summer, Alan Stubbs had just led the team to Scottish Cup glory for the first time in 114 years. The feeling of elation, curse-conquering, and finally lifting the famous old trophy produced an immense sense of positivity around the club.
Stubbs returned to England for an ill-fated spell at Rotherham while Neil Lennon arrived at Hibs to ultimately succeed where his predecessor hadn’t and take the club back to the Scottish Premiership. That was in the summer of 2016.
Since then Hibs have yo-yoed; Lennon securing fourth place on the side’s first season back in the top flight and a wee European run, before eventually leaving under a cloud. Paul Heckingbottom’s arrival heralded an impressive unbeaten run before he too left following a heavy League Cup semi-final defeat by Celtic.
Jack Ross was next up, leading Hibs to third for the first time in 15 years in his first full season in charge before being sacked shortly before the Premier Sports Cup final in December. Shaun Maloney followed but after just six wins in 19 games and 120 days in charge, he too was shown the door.
Including David Gray, Hibs have had six managers in the last six years. The club needs stability, and progress.
Hibs hope to appoint a manager for the long-term; someone who can ideally combine the best bits of those six managers and return the side to the upper echelons of the league and the final stages of both cups, qualify for Europe, and get the fans back on side.
"You know whoever is going to come in will be watching. They might not go back and watch the games we played well in, but they are going to being watching these games, so we need to be bang at it,” McGinn points out.
This time last season Hibs were looking forward to Europe, and the Scottish Cup final. Now? Finding out who the new manager is and squeezing in some R and R before pre-season.
"You would rather be in the position we were last year but your whole career is a rollercoaster. Nothing surprises you,” McGinn adds.
The 31-year-old is getting married this summer but even that hasn’t been straightforward as he attempts to accommodate his brother’s availability.
"I moved it for Scotland, but then the Ukraine game got moved and I thought John wouldn't get there, but he's managing to sneak a wee day in.”
It doesn’t leave much time between tying the knot and checking back in at East Mains but McGinn and his team-mates will be attempting some downtime – even if the arrival of a new gaffer means the squad will be on their toes – literally.
"Most players are professional during the summer, but they track you with the Strava app. You can't get away with doing nothing unless you've got a dog and you can strap your watch to the dog,” McGinn laughs.
"But with the new manager coming in I would imagine all the boys will be doing extra running."