Michael Weir: Wilderness beckons if HIbs get it wrong again

Times Up: Terry Butcher and Maurice Malpas
Times Up: Terry Butcher and Maurice Malpas
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I have been involved in this game for a long time and know there are never any guarantees, even when success comes knocking at the door.

Unfortunately, Terry Butcher and success do not belong in the same sentence when dissecting Hibs. It was far from a match made in heaven and yesterday Butcher met the consequences of being responsible for the demise that relegated the club to the Championship after last month’s play-off defeat by Hamilton.

Hearing a manager has lost his job is not something I take any pleasure from, as there are too many people in the game who have struggled to find a route back in. However, Butcher’s dismissal from Hibs after just seven months at the helm has reinforced the need for stability within Easter Road as the board once again find themselves on the lookout for a suitable candidate to lead us into the new season.

Many issues have arisen since that fateful day last month, but we must now focus on ensuring we recruit the right personnel to take the club forward. I must stress, however, at the time of Butcher’s arrival in November last year, I for one was hugely optimistic he could deliver the success that we, as Hibs fans, not only crave but deserve.

He assembled a side at former club Inverness Caley Thistle that was equipped to compete with the very best in the Scottish Premiership. I have been trying to fathom out just where and why it has gone so wrong for Butcher and Maurice Malpas during their time in the Capital, but have yet to find any real explanation. He was, of course, given ample time in the Highlands to restructure the club from top to bottom and enjoyed variable success in the time he was there. However, for one reason or another, the same triumphs just haven’t materialised during his time with Hibs.

After so many management casualties in recent seasons, I believe this next appointment at the club may prove to be the most significant of all.

The new man faces the unenviable task of trying to restore some pride to the club while, at the same time, recruiting a squad that is capable of returning to the top flight at the first time of asking.

However, he will face many constraints along the way, with new chief executive Leeann Dempster already making it known that any rewards will have to be achieved on a fairly restricted budget. But this is the formidable challenge that awaits and he must get it right in the transfer market if we are to carve out any chance of gaining promotion. Confidence must be restored to the fans who have suffered for a number of seasons now with such mediocrity becoming an all-too-familiar trait bearing the club’s tag. Supporters, as we know, are angered by the direction the club has taken and this must be put to a halt.

Releasing so many players in the last three weeks is sure to present a massive task in itself for the new manager with such limited time and pre-season only a matter of weeks away. I have no doubt the club is still a major attraction for those pros looking to progress their careers and as we know, irrespective of the division we find ourselves in next season, the name of Hibernian will continue to remain a reputable force in Scottish football.

The league set-up we are entering come August could not be more competitive, with our local rivals and one half of the Old Firm also desperate to make a return to the top tier.

If we do not hit the ground running, alarm bells will sound, with fingers again being pointed in the direction of the board. I still think we must invest heavily on the pitch to offer any hope of ensuring our stay in the Championship is short-lived, but with the murmurings I am hearing from the people entrusted with restoring our Premiership status, severe cutbacks are sadly already in motion.