Three goals in three and a bit games and a promising partnership with Simon Murray. It has, on the face of it, been a good start for Anthony Stokes at Hibs.
But he remains, in my opinion, the great enigma of Scottish football.
I don’t think he has ever been a player who has worked hard enough. I think he could easily be playing in the Premier League in England. If not a superstar, then he could certainly hold his own with anyone I have played with – and I’ve played with a lot of very good players. That’s probably as high a compliment as I could pay him. But attitude-wise, in terms of how hard he works on and off the field, he is probably as poor as I have worked with.
Attitude – and this is what I impress upon the kids at my football academy – is so important. When you have talent it has to be backed up with great attitude; I’m hoping that’s one thing Stokesie is going to change this year.
I’m hoping the penny has dropped. I am not saying it’s the last chance saloon. But he’s now 29 years old and this is certainly an opportunity that he needs to grasp.
But if he does not train well and live his life properly off the pitch his talent won’t come to the fore. His attitude will weigh it down.
I stopped playing at 31. But what stood in my way were my injuries, not my talent or professionalism.
Sadly I had bad luck when it came to injuries. But with Stokesie, he’s been mostly fit throughout his career – he’s not had any big serious injuries. He has played a lot of football – or at least been available to do so. So to think his attitude is the only thing stopping him showcasing his talent is disappointing.
His only enemy is himself, while my enemy was my body.
He was a poor trainer. When he was in the mood he was unplayable in training, a bit like he was in the Scottish Cup final v Rangers.
Hard graft is something anyone can do. Having natural talent like Stokesie is a gift. Some of the things he does is hard to teach. Sadly, and I say this honestly and with the best intentions, where he has got to has been purely because of his talent.
At his age he is starting to get a bit slower. I experienced it myself: your body starts to change because your metabolism slows down. You have to work harder to try to stay in shape to keep up with the young ones.
The only way is down sadly. Neil Lennon might turn a blind eye, though I’d like to think not. Will he ignore Stokesie taking liberties knowing his talent will outweigh the work ethic, and that he’ll win Hibs more games than he’ll lose?
Every player will have a day at training when he will need to leave smartish because he has something on – a family commitment, meeting a mate. I have done it myself. I have been straight into the shower and out. Or maybe I’ve been injured and frustrated and while I should stay and get extra treatment I’ve had enough, so I just head off.
But the players who do it consistently and come in at one minute to ten and leave at one minute past 12, it is there for all to see.
Stokesie was not the type to do extra. He would smash a ball into the net all day if he could. But when it comes to gym work and trying to be the best he can be, I’m not sure he has ever done that.
He has had an indifferent start to his latest spell at Hibs. If I were to bet on his talent, I’d put my house on him being a success. But bet on his attitude changing? I’m afraid I wouldn’t feel nearly as confident.