Paul Heckingbottom opens up on his relationship with Hibs owner Ron Gordon
Paul Heckingbottom has claimed both he and new Hibs owner Ron Gordon are on the same page in their ambitions for the club.
The American multi-millionaire has been at each of the Capital outfit’s past three matches, watching as Heckingbottom’s players lost to Motherwell and Kilmarnock after surrendering a last-minute equaliser against St Johnstone.
Those results have left Hibs without a win since the opening day of the Premiership season as they’ve slumped down the table just two points ahead of arch rivals Hearts who are rock-bottom, piling pressure on Heckingbottom ahead of Sunday’s Edinburgh derby.
But, revealed the Yorkshireman, the head coach and Gordon have got together after each match and enjoyed “good conversations” in which the chairman’s passion for Hibs has been evident.
Pointing out that Gordon had to impress long-term owner Sir Tom Farmer of his credentials before he ended his 28-year association with the club, Heckingbottom said: “Everyone is convinced it’s been sold to a man who has the best intentions.
“And for me, getting to know him over the last few weeks, he’s in it for the long term. He’s as passionate about the club as I and everyone else is.”
Despite recent results, Heckingbottom insisted he’s welcomed seeing Gordon after each match, rather than with a sense of trepidation. He said: “We’ve had good chats about it.
“It’s different, he has taken over a football club, the reality of it and everything that comes with it. It’s a big responsibility, but he has a big, big passion for it and it’s been good having conversations with him about that.”
As a former manager of Barnsley and Leeds United, Heckingbottom revealed he’s become accustomed to change at the top but recognises Gordon as being “the most important person at the club”, someone capable of being a supporter like any other fan for 90 minutes but with the hard-headed approach of a businessman outwith that time.
He said: “This is my fifth different owner and every one has been totally different. In that short period of time I’ve had a lot of upheavals in terms of ownership, they set the standards, the strategy, he’s the boss.
“I think when you are at the game you are a fan, aren’t you? That’s why everyone loves the game. But when you come away from the game you have to be really clear on your plan.
“The chairman, the owner is the most important person in setting that plan, in being really clear long term where he wants to be, how he wants to get there and then sticking to it because you can get lots of people with lots of different opinions in football.
“Again, that’s one reason why we love it. But a lot of it can become noise and a distraction. His challenge for this club is that strategy, that plan, applying his expertise in those areas and getting everyone to deliver.”
And Heckingbottom is well aware that his task is to deliver results, accepting that having enjoyed a relatively successful start to his time at Hibs, taking over when the club was in eighth place and lifting it to fifth, expectations had been raised over the summer, with the arrival of a raft of new players and Gordon now at the helm,A
Although he insisted it would be wrong to divulge the details of the conversations he’s had with Gordon – not only in the immediate aftermath of matches – Heckingbottom said it was evident he’s in it for the long term
“He has a vision of where he wants to take the club and is committed to it,” he said. “It’s his job to raise expectations and live up to them and we all hope we can continue to do that.
“It means you are doing well if you keep lifting expectations, but there are ups and downs all the time. It’s part of our job as well, as coaches, decision makers at the club.
“You are reacting to games and results, of course you are. But you have to react in a different way to a fan as such because you are trying to build players, improve players over the long term and that’s what will make you successful or not.
“Whether that’s a player coming through for whom we’ll get millions in a transfer fee to reinvest, young players coming through and being added to the first-team squad, new signings we need to bring in or getting existing players really clear in their role, we are always thinking more long term, otherwise you are just thinking week to week. We want to get more control over that.”