Michael Weir: Next Hibs boss must have the drive and ambition of Neil Lennon
Like every Hibs fan, I was shocked by the news that Neil Lennon has been suspended by the club. I was actually down south with former players Paul Kane, Graham Mitchell, Joe Tortolano, Gordon Rae, Alan Sneddon and Craig Brewster for the London Hibs Burns Night when the rumours started flying about.
Obviously something happened down at East Mains, but no-one knows exactly what went on so it would be wrong to speculate. No doubt we’ll learn more further down the line. However, it seems too far gone to hope that everyone can kiss and make up, that Hibs will be looking for a new manager although, at the moment, Neil is still employed as head coach.
He’s going to be a hard act to follow. He has done great for the club, getting us out of the Championship in his first season and then kicking on to go within a whisker of taking second place in the Premiership while also getting us back into Europe. It was always going to be tougher this season, particularly having lost so many good players, but the fans loved him and he loved being manager of the club.
I honestly thought Neil would be there for four or five seasons, working to where he wants to take Hibs.
Unsurprisingly, a number of names have already been mentioned as possible successors, but I think it is far too early for me to start talking about individuals. The next manager has to have the same drive and ambition Neil possessed and, I think, it shouldn’t be a rookie. we need someone who has the ability to handle a big club like Hibs.
I think everyone will hope that the situation with Neil and the club can be resolved as quickly as possible to allow both parties to move on. Until that happens everything will be in limbo with, I’d imagine, Eddie May and Grant Murray continuing to take the first team.
It’s an awkward time with the January transfer window deadline only a few days away although, as David Gray said, the current squad, even without any additions, should be good enough to finish in the top six and hopefully Sunday’s win at St Mirren will prove to be the catalyst for a better second half.
I think most would agree that this season looks like being something of a write off. We’re not going to get relegated and while everyone would like to think the team could go on a bit of a run I think one of the Europa League places looks a bit beyond us.
However, having said that, there is still a lot of football to be played. A new manager would have something like 13 or 14 league games plus, hopefully, an extended run in the Scottish Cup, time enough for anyone to assess the squad he has inherited and to begin making plans for next season.
The summer transfer window, to me, is the time to reshape the squad at any club and to have the bulk of the second half of the season to look over the players already at Hibs, to learn about their strengths and weaknesses, their character and so on would allow the new manager plenty of time to make, hopefully, the right decisions going forward and to be ready to hit the ground running next season.
Players coming to Hibs need to be able to handle the expectations and pressures that go with playing for a club of this size. You don’t just need to have a bit of quality, you need to be able to deal with what comes with the territory and sometimes you find good players feel it.