Shaun Maloney desperate to give Hibs fans something to be proud of against 'hometown' side Aberdeen
Shaun Maloney might have spent his formative years in Aberdeen after his family moved back to Scotland from Malaysia, but there certainly won’t be any divided loyalties for the new Hibs manager against his “hometown” team on Wednesday night.
The 38-year-old spent the first few years of his life in Miri, close to the Malaysian border with Brunei, before relocating to the Granite City at the age of five.
As a youngster he turned out for Kincorth Boys’ Club, Culter Boys’ Club, and finally Albion Boys’ Club, joining Celtic in 1999, so it’s a peculiar twist of fate that Maloney’s first match in charge of the Capital club is against the Dons.
"It’s a bit of a quirk that the fixture list has thrown this up, a game against a club and a city I know very well,” he said ahead of his Hibs touchline debut.
“They’re in a really good moment so it’s a great game to start with. They’ve got some really talented players, they’ve found a structure that seems to suit these players.
“So it’s going to be a big challenge, but we have to go in prepared to win the match.
“There are going to be moments where we have to fight, like the team did against Celtic, out of possession but we try to prepare a plan to in. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
Maloney is anticipating a large travelling support for the match but is only concerned with the other three stands at Easter Road.
“I’m really looking forward to meeting our home support,” he continued.
“I know it’s been three days’ training and it’s very quick but from what I saw at Hampden, our support felt real pride in the performance our players put in. I expect the same on Wednesday night, and hopefully we give them something more to be proud of and enjoy.”
Maloney took training on Monday but the quick turnaround between Sunday’s Premier Sports Cup final and Wednesday night’s Scottish Premiership encounter hasn’t left much time for preparation, but the Hibs boss isn’t too concerned.
“In terms of training pitch and training time, there are different ways to coach players now. The time on the pitch will be limited. But that’s just a challenge for me and my staff to overcome.
“Every team is the same. It’s not like Hibs have fewer days between games than other teams. It’s just a challenge we all face at this time of the year."
After Stephen Glass brings his side to Edinburgh, Hibs face a trip to Dundee United before facing Maloney’s former side Celtic and of course the Edinburgh derby on January 3 – assuming the ongoing Covid-19 circumstances don’t force the postponement of any matches.
“We’ve got brilliant matches coming up before the break but right now it’s about preparing for Aberdeen,” he insists.
“To think about the Edinburgh derby now feels a fair bit off. I’m really looking forward to it, though, and I know it’ll be fantastic game. I can’t wait to feel the atmosphere.
“There are some big games coming up, some big challenges.”