Re-invigorate the players
There is no doubting the talent in the Hibs squad but for a variety of reasons it just hasn’t happened very often this season. Kevin Nisbet has struggled to replicate his form from last season, but has been without strike-partner Christian Doidge for the bulk of the campaign to date, while the defence has looked rocky at times despite a broadly impressive 2020/21. Injuries have played a part too, but if the players buy into Maloney’s style of play, which the new boss believes “is the best way to win and excite the fans at the same time” then it should hopefully result in an upturn in performances both collectively and individually.
Get the fans back onside
Aside from results on the pitch, perhaps Maloney’s most important task will be winning over the fans. The new manager has already highlighted the need to forge a connection with the supporters, which any incoming head coach would have to do anyway, but it may be a stiff test given the current state of play. Many fans are still sore after the team’s performance in the 2020/21 Scottish Cup final but a new manager could offer the chance to start afresh, as it were.
Maloney’s dedication to attacking football that will excite the fans should certainly help – but it’s a results business and a win or two in his first few matches wouldn't go amiss.
Sort out the team
Maloney has a talented bunch of players at his disposal, and that includes Chris Mueller and Dylan Tait who will be joining the first-team squad early next month. But as we’ve heard numerous times from various key figures at Easter Road, and also Jack Ross prior to his departure, Hibs didn’t have a particularly good summer transfer window. While that is undoubtedly true – the lack of depth in central defence and up top has been exposed on more than one occasion – it does put extra pressure on Maloney and the club during next month’s window.
It looks like he will be well backed, however, so it sounds like Hibs might come out the other side in a better position.
Locate a plan B
Hibs could be quite one-dimensional, with fans bemoaning the lack of a discernible plan B but Maloney is the type of manager who will have a plan B, and probably a plan C, for when his main approach isn’t working. This ties in with his desire to play in a style that will excite the fans and should also help with winning over the fans.
Jack Ross took his Hibs team to two semi-finals and two finals, coming agonisingly close to silverware. Leaving aside second-tier titles Hibs last won a trophy in 2016 and before that, 2007.
While many fans will never see their team reach the latter stages of a cup competition, Hibs have certainly underachieved in recent history and if Maloney can set about changing that then it will not only help him win over any supporters who are still on the fence about his appointment, but it will be a statement of intent.
Assuming he is able to bolster his squad to his liking next month, he may have an even better chance of scooping a cup.