Next Hibs manager: Interim boss David Gray remains coy over future as Paul McGinn admits results haven't been good enough
He is the only member of the coaching team to have survived both the Jack Ross tenure and Shaun Maloney’s brief stint at the helm. He will once again step into the breach following the latter’s sacking on Tuesday.
Just don’t ask him about the prospect of taking the job on a permanent basis.
"I’ve been in football long enough to know how it works but it has been a bit of a rollercoaster season in terms of changes and development. I have learned a lot in a short space of time but, ultimately, nothing surprises me in football, and you’ve just got to be ready for it,” he says, as he previews the trip to Paisley.
He enters this second interim spell more experienced as both a coach and caretaker, having learned under Ross and Maloney and from his first stint in charge.
"I think you’re always reflecting on how you can improve and how you can do things differently. I have had the benefit of learning under two different managers and seeing how they work.
"I have worked with different managers – with them and under them – and I know what I liked and didn’t like and you try to mould the way you would like to do it.
"I had the opportunity to work under Shaun and Jack and I learned a lot in that short period of time.”
The 33-year-old understands the club, its goals, and he’s won a league and the Scottish Cup. Surely he’s preparing to launch his hat into the ring as the Hibs hierarchy ponders a new permanent manager?
“That’s not a question for me, that’s a question for whatever happens moving forward. I’ve obviously been at the club a long time, I love the club and I love everything about it and what it represents,” Gray continues.
"It’s a massive club and a great opportunity for whoever the next manager is to inherit a good squad of players at the minute, and a fantastic fanbase and stadium and facilities. It’s a top club that I really enjoy working for."
Gray insists his sole focus at the moment is on the Scottish Premiership clash at the SMiSA Stadium on Saturday afternoon but he certainly harbours managerial hopes.
“Would I like to be a manager? Yes, one day. But, at the same time, I’ve not been asked to do that job, I’ve been asked to do the job between now and the end of the season, and that is my full focus at the minute.
“It’s about getting results as quickly as we can and to prepare the team as well as we can between now and the end of the season. My future is irrelevant at the moment, and what will be will be moving forward.”
Gray is still in touch with both Ross and Maloney and they would be well placed to offer him advice on the ups and downs of management. The former Easter Road captain took charge of the team for the League Cup final at Hampden against Celtic – “I had very mixed emotions on that day, for obvious reasons. I didn’t enjoy it, I don’t look back on it as a really good experience, because we got beat” – but is only focused on picking up five wins from the remaining five games.
"People losing their jobs is never nice but we’ve not got any time now to think that the season is just going to dwindle away and there’s nothing to play for.
“The mindset is five games, five wins, and that would give us seventh, with more points than what’s above us, and ultimately to try to get a little bit of pride back in our performances and our results.”
Paul McGinn, who returned to the starting line-up last weekend in the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Hearts, admits results weren’t good enough under Ross or Maloney but reckons the speed with which Ron Gordon dismissed both reflects his aims for the club.
“It’s mostly on us, isn’t it? It’s a results business and that’s the sign of a not-so successful season,” he says.
“Don’t get me wrong, we got to a final and a semi and the margin of not being in the top six was pretty small, but it’s still not where Hibs want to be.
“I suppose [the sackings] are a good sign from the club, it shows the level the chairman wants to get to.
“We should be up there as one of the big clubs in the country and staying about, as Aberdeen did for so long.
“We can’t yo-yo about and there are negative sides to both, but I can see where they are coming from.”
McGinn also wonders what might have happened had Ryan Porteous not been sent off against Rangers at Ibrox, with Hibs 1-0 up in early October.
"If he doesn’t get sent off we’re flying high and it’s bizarre to think it’s the same season.
“It shows you what happens in football if you don’t get things right.”
Hibs have five games remaining to restore a modicum of pride at the end of a tumultuous season. The team hasn’t spoken about the r-word (relegation) and McGinn insists it won’t take much for the side to hit the victory trail once more.
“We need to win games, it becomes a habit but it has become a habit the other way and we haven’t been winning as much,” McGinn adds.
“Last year we won most weeks so we know it’s small margins both ways.
“But we want to get back to winning most weeks.”