Malky's Manic Monday - Hibs chief dives in at deep end

Malky Mackay, the new sporting director at Hibs. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Malky Mackay, the new sporting director at Hibs. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Malky Mackay, the new sporting director at Hibs. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Mackay has to multi-task at crucial time for Easter Road club

Manic Monday? You could certainly call it that, even if new Hibs sporting director Malky Mackay is technically one full weekend into his new role with the club. A role he’s been working away at, unofficially, for a couple of weeks.

Technically allowed to start working for Hibs from June 1, with the terms of his departure from Ross County apparently including one of those restrictive clauses so beloved by employment lawyers, Mackay has obviously been beavering away behind the scenes since his appointment was confirmed last month. Starting with the obvious priorities, he’s fully aware of the job taken on.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

At a time when players are either resting up or dashing around on international duty, it would be wrong to describe the Hibs training centre at East Mains as a hotbed of activity. But there’s plenty of remote working going on, with chats between Mackay, Ian Gordon and Bill Foley’s Black Knight group – now key players in what happens next, despite holding just a 25 per cent stake – focusing on the immediate steps required

On the first day of the nominal working week, then, we could all take a stab at the No.1 job on his list. But what else is waiting in his virtual in tray? Let’s take a look.

Appoint a manager

Well, of course. Nothing matters more than this. And Mackay is very much the lead on a search process that could easily end with an internal promotion for David Gray.

While there’s still time and space for movement, with Foley’s advisers playing at least some role in the appointment of a replacement for Nick Montgomery, it feels as if Hibs are gradually inching towards doing the obvious thing. If that’s the case, why would they wait? To make it look ‘better’ to fans waiting to accuse them of lacking ambition by handing the job to a relative rookie?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
David Gray remains a leading candidate for role.David Gray remains a leading candidate for role.
David Gray remains a leading candidate for role. | Getty Images

Assuming the manager/head coach will have a major/final say in recruitment of players for the first team, not having that gaffer in place is a roadblock. It needs to be cleared if anything substantial is to be achieved.

Clear out the dead wood

Hibs have lost quality through the expiry of loan agreements for the likes of Myziane Maolida and Emi Marcondes. But they really want to get rid of some other ‘assets’ tied to the club for the longer term.

Economically, practically and in terms of basic team building, the new gaffer cannot juggle an enormous squad containing so many footballers unlikely to contribute to the first team. The new boss may have different ideas on some currently on the outside looking in.

But there’s no denying that decisions need to be made. They need to stick or twist with guys like Riley Harbottle, Harry McKirdy, Allan Delferriere, Nohan Kenneh, Ewan Henderson …

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Replace the flotsam and jetsam with something more solid

A quick glance at the squad, excluding players likely to have no future under any manager, suggests that Hibs need an almighty recruitment push over the coming weeks. They’re short of bodies and quality in virtually every department. And having a surplus of right backs isn’t helping.

The plan, as things stand, is to cash in on Elie Youan – who could fetch up to £2.5 million from an unnamed French club – and use that to strengthen in the most pressing areas of the park. Not easy when there are so many priorities.

Rocky Bushiri is the only senior central defender on the books, if you exclude the clearly unwanted Harbottle. With Will Fish looking less likely to return on loan from Manchester United, Hibs could do with at least two new faces at centre-half.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

They’re also short up front and on the wing, presuming Youan departs. Without a bottomless pit of money, they may have to turn inwards …

Assess youth prospects

At a time of year when player movement is dominating the thoughts of academy coaches and their young charges, Hibs need to know which of the under-18s they can rely on to play a part in the first team. Immediately, if not sooner.

When the first team report back for pre-season training a fortnight on Friday, a handful of players from the youth section will be included. And some still-young footballers who spent last season on loan will be assessed.

Whittaker and David Marshall in action.Whittaker and David Marshall in action.
Whittaker and David Marshall in action. | SNS Group

Kanayo Megwa and Rory Whittaker may find their place in the senior squad blocked by Lewis Miller and Chris Cadden (see earlier comment about right back surplus), while the likes of Rudi Molotnikov will be looking to build on his limited first-team exposure last season. Does Josh O’Connor get a run-out in the Premier Sports Cup, just to see what he can do?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Get fans on board

This should not be underestimated. As loyal as Hibs fans remained for the majority of last season, with nearly 3000 travelling to Motherwell for the ultimately agonising final pre-split fixture, a very clear disconnect between club and customer began to develop over the course of a calamitous campaign. Walking over to applaud supporters only goes so far when results are so disappointing.

Safe standing is a bold move that is likely to generate goodwill. Asking season ticket holders to pay an extra £250 for the privilege of buying food and drinks at the new sports bar in the Famous Five Stand feels a touch greedy, given how much fans are already paying just to attend games.

But any improvement of, or concern relating to, the match day experience starts and finishes with events on the pitch. Until Hibs fans are given a reason to be optimistic about the campaign looming large on the horizon, nothing substantial will change. Which brings us back to the new technical director. Some job he’s taken on, eh?