What's next for Hibs after Dean Gibson?
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When Gibson was appointed back in 2020 the club was often seen as a poisoned chalice with the glory days long gone. The Old Firm continued to invest in the women’s game whilst Glasgow City remained a heavy hitter in the SWPL. Yet, within his reign, Gibson has managed to keep Hibs in touching distance of the ‘top three’ and even managed to get his team to a cup final this season.
However, whilst the club were seen as the best of the rest for his first two seasons in charge, over the past year this status has been challenged. Eva Olid’s Hearts easily pipped the Leith club to the fourth spot and sit 13 points clear of Gibson’s side going into his final game. The turning of the tide in Edinburgh was most apparent in the latest clash between the two sides as Hearts managed to get their first victory in years over their fierce rivals. Whilst the injury crisis Hibs currently find themselves in has not helped them, it is no question that Hearts are here to stay in the top half of the SWPL.
As a new era at the club is set to dawn next season, this is the most immediate challenge that the new manager will have to overcome. The return of players such as Shannon McGregor and Rachael Boyle will provide a much-needed boost to the squad, whilst the continued development of young stars such as Rosie Livingstone and Eilidh Adams can provide the club with firepower for years to come. The nurturing of academy players in first-teamers is something that must be continued in the new regime.
However, the transfer market should not be underutilised by the new management team if they want to continue to build on what they have. It is expected that all four teams above them will invest in their team again this summer and Hibs cannot afford to be left behind. Gibson’s final signings in Katie Lockwood and Brooke Nunn have already become two of the club's best players highlighting that a good transfer strategy in the summer is vital to bolstering their squad.
Their current injury crisis also suggests that a bigger squad may be the way forward for the club. With Gibson unable to name a full bench for much of 2023 more options would certainly help the club get over the line in some games. All four of their recent games have all been lost by one goal. This suggests that an additional one or two fresh legs on the field may have been enough to salvage a draw or maybe even a win against the top four sides. With a fully fit squad, Hibs have shown multiple times what they can do this season with two 8-0 victories at the start of the campaign as well as a 2-1 win over Glasgow City on their way to the SWPL Cup final. With the right additions over the summer, there is no reason why Hibs cannot close the gap next season.