Lee Johnson at peace with Hibs director of football decision - 'No one is using this to bash me on the head'

There are many egos in the football sphere, that much is clear, but not at Hibs, where manager Lee Johnson is discussing the prospect of working with an incoming director of football.
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The Easter Road side announced plans for a structural shake-up earlier this week, with a new figure joining the senior management team at the club following an internal review. But having worked with directors of football in the past – in role, if not name – Johnson is merely keen to see the club improve.

"Kristjaan Speakman at Sunderland was across all facets of the club; the academy and recruitment, depending on what month it was. It’s about having somebody who can look at it from 10,000 feet while everyone else is involved in the hustle around it,” he explains.

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“Whether at Bristol City or Barnsley – although it was the CEO at those clubs – or at Sunderland with the sporting director, or Oldham where the owner was basically the sporting director and we had contact every day, it was all about relationships and skill sets and about making sure that you fill the gaps the club require.”

Lee Johnson speaks to the media ahead of the game against Dundee UnitedLee Johnson speaks to the media ahead of the game against Dundee United
Lee Johnson speaks to the media ahead of the game against Dundee United

The current tetrarchy at Hibs, if you like, comprises owner Ron Gordon, chief executive Ben Kensell, head of recruitment and Ron’s son Ian Gordon, and Johnson himself. Will there be any issues when that extends to five in due course?

“I just want the club to improve. I don’t have an ego. I’m vicious in my opinion because I have a lot of football experience but I am open and honest and the communication lines here are strong and they have been since I walked in the door. That’s the way it should be. We don’t pull any punches when we talk to each other but at the same time there’s a mutual respect and strong relationships within that group.”

Johnson will be consulted over the appointment – and has already taken calls from ten people keen on the role – and hopes the structural change can help take the club forward.

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"No one is using this to bash me on the head,” he says, with a smile. “Everything has been discussed, and it all comes down to the candidate now – but I’m certainly not throwing my toys out the pram because this club requires more and more football nous throughout. My job is to advise, simple as that. It’s my job to say, ‘this is how I perceive it’ and then leave it to the powers that be to decide which way they want to go with that. But I am here to do my very best for the team.

“It hasn’t been good enough and I’ve been honest about that, so what do you do? Do you continue to let it not be good enough, or do you canvass people, including the players, to try to improve things so that success comes to us because we are making better decisions every day?

"It's a really important role and it's really important that the dynamic is right. It will free me up to do more on the coaching side. That's a fundamental part of it, to make sure that the laser focus can be on the things that matter most in terms of 3pm on a Saturday."