Hibs won't be left behind says Ron Gordon as he explains Shaun Maloney sacking and new manager search

In the end, it wasn’t the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Hearts that sounded the death knell for Shaun Maloney as Hibs boss; it was the team’s jittery league form, a run of just four wins in 15 sparking concern in the boardroom for the remainder of this season and the next.
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“This was a year for us to be in the top six and competing for European competition and the fact we are not in it is a major disappointment,” owner Ron Gordon says as he addresses the departure of the former Belgium No.2.

The 39-year-old was relieved of his duties after just 19 games in charge, becoming the second Easter Road manager to be shown the door inside five months.

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Predecessor Jack Ross had taken Hibs into continental competition. Maloney hadn’t.

“It is one of our KPIs to be in Europe so we missed the boat,” Gordon continues. "It was the wrong season not to perform, so I am a little disappointed.

"Kudos to Hearts, because they had a terrific season and it will be very beneficial to them but I don't think we are going to be left behind.

"We won’t let ourselves be left behind.”

The thinking behind Maloney decision

Hibs owner Ron Gordon spoke at length about Shaun Maloney's appointment and sacking, and where the club would go nextHibs owner Ron Gordon spoke at length about Shaun Maloney's appointment and sacking, and where the club would go next
Hibs owner Ron Gordon spoke at length about Shaun Maloney's appointment and sacking, and where the club would go next

It is precisely that desire not to be left behind that led to Maloney getting the tap on his shoulder after an emergency board meeting on Monday night. With Gordon currently stateside, chief executive Ben Kensell wielded the axe on Tuesday morning, prompting a heated exchange with the ousted boss at the club’s Ormiston training base.

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“I think he was very disappointed. I wasn’t there, but I talked to Shaun regularly, I know he believed he needed more time. I know he wasn’t happy,” Gordon sighs.

“I do think Shaun gave 150 per cent, he was committed to succeeding and doing the best he could, but ultimately the results weren’t there and the trend wasn’t headed in the right direction.

“These are difficult decisions. And the fact we have now had a couple of these is not a good thing.”

Gordon has urged fans to blame him for the on-pitch issuesGordon has urged fans to blame him for the on-pitch issues
Gordon has urged fans to blame him for the on-pitch issues

There are no regrets about sacking Ross in early December, however.

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“I think we made the right decision at the time. We took a risk in terms of bringing Shaun in.

"The whole idea was to continue to improve and build and unfortunately that did not pan out. It was a risk and I have to take full responsibility for that."

‘Hibs have to take some risks and be innovative’

Hibs is a 'phenomenal opportunity for the right manager', according to the Easter Road executive chairmanHibs is a 'phenomenal opportunity for the right manager', according to the Easter Road executive chairman
Hibs is a 'phenomenal opportunity for the right manager', according to the Easter Road executive chairman

Gordon refers to the decision to give Maloney a chance as ‘an exciting risk’.

“I want Hibs to be a club that is innovative and taking some risks, and having someone like Shaun with the history he has of coaching at a very high level – although never as a manager – the risk for us was that it was the first professional team he had managed.

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“Another board member said it was a tough club for this to be your first rodeo. There is a high expectation, a lot of pressure, it’s not an easy first job.

"I think Shaun gave it 150 per cent and worked hard and was committed to succeeding and doing the best he could but ultimately the results were not there.

Even so, four months isn’t a huge amount of time in any line of work, surely?

“You have to look at the body of work. I know that four months is not enough, but the board thought they didn’t see enough of where things were going and felt it was better to make a change and reset.”

Ron Gordon insists Hibs gave Shaun Maloney 'plenty time' despite sacking their manager after just 120 days in charge. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)Ron Gordon insists Hibs gave Shaun Maloney 'plenty time' despite sacking their manager after just 120 days in charge. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)
Ron Gordon insists Hibs gave Shaun Maloney 'plenty time' despite sacking their manager after just 120 days in charge. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

Timing of decision

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Gordon elaborates on the decision to make a change, which came after weeks of discussion.

“We’ve been having conversations over the last month or so, looking at where we were going as a football team,” he explains.

"We had a very thorough and open conversation about the options, which were to make the move that we did, wait until the end of the season and make the decision then, or stick with Shaun and give him more time.

"The board was very decisive in its view that we needed to make the change. That gave us the best possibility of turning things around and moving in the right direction for a variety of reasons.

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“By making the change we did, it gives us the biggest window to prepare for next season and get a manager in time for pre-season on June 18.

“Last time, I think we made a decision to get somebody in quickly. This time I think we are going to give ourselves a little more time.”

Gordon: ‘Blame me for issues on the pitch’

Gordon points the finger of blame at himself for where the team is in footballing terms but is adamant that the new manager will be backed to the hilt.

"I'm very happy with many things at the club but if you don't get the football right, nobody cares. We need to get the football right,” he says.

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"I take some, if not all, of the responsibility for where we are right now on the football side. I am very influential in the decision-making.

"We want stability, we want to play a modern, progressive type of football. That needs to be part of our DNA. We need to have a culture of winning at the club."

‘Phenomenal opportunity for the right manager’

Gordon has seen off two managers inside one season but remains convinced that the job is an attractive one. He has hired and fired more than he would have liked but the new manager will get support from the board during an important summer for the club.

"We will work very closely to make sure we provide the support they need to succeed,” he states.

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"We need to see progress, obviously, but we will be very committed to finding a longer-term appointment.

"I believe Hibs is a phenomenal opportunity for the right manager, but we have not got the management right and we've made too many changes.

"I wish we had not had to make the changes we've made."

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