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Hibs can blossom with bold thinking

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Jim Spence | 16:52 UK time, Friday, 18 November 2011

There has never been a better time for Hibernian to blossom under a new manager.

The right appointment could set the Edinburgh club on the path to real success.

Whether it is Michael O'Neill, Billy Brown, Pat Fenlon, or a mysterious rabbit from the hat appointment, if the new man can reshape the Easter Road side, then, given the state of our game at present, the Scottish football world could be Hibs' oyster.

Hibs are in good financial shape by comparison to most Scottish Premier League clubs.

Their great rivals Hearts are in turmoil, Rangers are financially strapped and there are signs that Dermot Desmond's interest in Celtic may not be as strong as it once was.

Hibernian striker Garry O'Connor

It is vital that Hibernian hold on to powerful striker Garry O'Connor

So, if Hibs get the right man, he may be getting just the right club, at exactly the right time.

The potential at Easter Road is undoubted.

The 60,000 crowds of yesteryear are long gone, but a Hibs side playing with verve and vitality and challenging at the top of the Scottish game, would surely see Easter Road, "heaving with humanity" as I put it in a recent blog.

The squad clearly needs strengthened.

But, with all of their rivals cash poor, Hibs, with some speculative outlay by a manager with a good eye for a player and good contacts, could be in a position to flourish.

Chairman Rod Petrie gave an emotional tribute to Garry O Connor at the club's recent AGM, enthusing about the striker's return to the 'Hibs family'.

Retaining a player of O'Connor's ability and adding a few players of quality at a time when the Scottish game is becoming more reliant on youth, could see Hibs emerge as a serious force again.

It will require the board to take more risk than they have in the past, by loosening the purse strings, but given the current and likely future financial state of many of their rivals, an emboldened Hibs might just find the future is theirs for the taking.


  • Comment number 1.

    With Deeks leaving Shaanxi, a forward line of Deeks, Garry and Ivan would be very hard to beat.

    The new manager needs to be able to tell the players to buck up their ides, we can't have another situation where the 'tache supports the players over the manager.

    We can't seriously go for Fenlon if we have the chance at O'Neill. O'Neill knows Scottish football, and is more successful in the same league. I personally still would like John Collins or Jim Jeffries.

  • Comment number 2.


    bringing back Riordan would be a mistake. He's a spent force, and sadly it's self inflicted.

    Having said that, I too would love to see Collins back. He was revolutionary to the Scottish game, and it says a lot about the state of our game that he faced a player revolt for expecting then to behave like professionals. Having said that, I'd be very surprised if he would go back after what happened last time around.

  • Comment number 3.

    Having said that, I just love saying 'having said that'.....

  • Comment number 4.

    The time for Hibs to blossom was when two of the best young managers we've seen in Scotland - Mowbray and then Collins - were in charge of the best group of young players in the country for some time.

    They blew it. The board failed to back both managers, failed to rid the club of the dressing room ned culture and failed to invest the millions brought in through transfers back into the team.

    They win the prize for best balance sheet though!

  • Comment number 5.

    even as a hearts fan i have to agree that hibs have been under performing. they really have handled their finances very well and invested money back into the club in a much more sensible way than most.

    the major question remains though as to how to fill their ground? average attendances are low. much lower than they should be. i do actually hope that hibs can start making a success of it in a sensible way and take advantage of the financial turmoil at rangers, aberdeen and hearts (we'd be above you any day without that termoil! ;)). as the OF's bubble and indeed scottish footballs finacial bubble of insanity looks to be slowly bursting, maybe hibs will take advantage as all the clubs around them implode!

  • Comment number 6.

    Have got to agree with #4.

    Rangers were on their knees a few years ago and Romanov's interference in team affairs hindered Hearts a lot. Around about this time, Hibs received over £10million for the great young players they brought through. If ever there was a time to challenge at the top, then surely it was then?

  • Comment number 7.

    What's happened to Scots football, OF have ruled for years. But Hearts, Hibs & Aberdeen always posed a threat. Sometimes broke the mould, now you talk of a Hibs resurrgance. Can't see the OF shakin in their boots to be honest. Hearts are in turmoil, Aberdeen are just in ( fill in as required ). The OF fear Motherwell more than any of the others, see the reaction when Celtic won there.
    Hibs would have to buy big time, or get a shed load of youngsters coming through an academy. What then sassuanch will buy at a price Hibs can't refuse. Auld story, Scotland is a feeder when any are good enough

  • Comment number 8.

    I agree Jim that this is the best chance in a long time for a team outwith the OF to mount a genuine challenge but as much as I desperately want that to be Hibs, I'm just not sure that we are that close. If history is anything to go by O'Connor will be away in January or in the summer. We do have some talented youngsters in Wotherspoon, Booth and Hanlon but frankly they seem to look better playing for Scotland U-21s then for us. The rest of the squad is pretty much unproven - they certainly haven't performed for Calderwood but we don't yet know if that is because they are poor players or he was not able to get them playing together.

    A new manager could of course make a huge difference but I see the board using the current perilous state of finances in the Scottish game being a reason to decrease rather than increase investment. Afterall, how many organisations are actually ramping up investment in the current economic climate? They have invested heavily in the stadium and training complex recently and with them posting a near 1m loss in the last figures I think that their natural caution will prevail.

    Thats not so say things are all doom and gloom but I believe the next manager will be vital to our fortunes. Another poor selection by the board with a huge overhaul of the squad will not go down well with the fans if there are no signs of progress. We have been stagnant for far too long now and I fear that some fans will drift away permanently if they don't see some improvement on the pitch.

  • Comment number 9.

    As much I would love it I doubt it will develop like that. Rod Petrie should of stepped down at the AGM leaving a legacy of a fantastic training facility, fantastic stadium and a balance sheet that looks fantastic in the modern football world. It would of been the perfect time for him to hand the baton on where we could of got a new chairman with fresh ideas and a new manager who could take club forward. Unfortunatly the way I see it is as long as Petrie is still there forwards is not a direction the club (in terms of on the pitch) will be going.

    Keeping O'Connor would be fantastic. Get Griffiths would be a big boost too and by the sound of Mick Mic's comments the other day is that he'd of been open to the idea. Hibs need a right back and someone who can properly organise the defence. I think there is enough quality in there to be in a better position we are but some organisation is key to us moving forward.

    As for wanting Collins back, I'd love it but the big problem is still Petrie so he would never come. This manager appointment for me is the most key since Mowbrays appointment all those years ago (feels like forever with the amount of managers that have come in and out since). A solid manager to provide some stability at the club with results on the pitch is a must. My personal choice would be Jimmy Calderwood, maybe not every Hibees preference but he has a good record in the SPL and with his exerience of travelling round Europe learning from the best it can only make him better. I amnt sure about Fenlon or O'Neill. Both have done well but look at when Dunfermline brought in Stephen Kenny(think that was his name) from Ireland and he was meant to be a very promising manager but it never worked out. That's why I'm not so sure with the 2 names being banded about now. Shows you how much of a slide Scottish footballs taken when one of it's biggest clubs is recruiting from the Irish league. But I suppose at the end of the day whoever takes it, it won't matter where they have come from if they do well. Heard that Iain McPartland had an interview last weekend too.

  • Comment number 10.

    A lot of Scottish club's produce good young players, but not enough to keep them going. Hamilton had a few good young players, but once they left there was not enough to replace them and keep them in the league. Falkirk were the same.

    Hibs, however, had the likes of: Brown, Thomson, Fletcher, O'Connor, Riordan all coming through in a small time period. Yet they could not capitalise on this. If they could not see a huge opportunity then, will they ever?

  • Comment number 11.


    That young squad Whittaker, Murphy, Caldwell, brown, Thomson, Fletcher, Riordan and O'Connor were all class young players who either came through the youth set up or signed at a young enough age to help develop them in to the players they are now and even Kenny Miller a few years prior. The majority of them ended up at either Rangers or Celtic and the three there that didn't were all heavily linked with both clubs before they went elsewhere. We were never going to get an opportunity to make the most of what we had with them with the ugly sisters doing their favourite trick of snapping up other good SPL players. That squad for a couple more years together could of pushed for a league title but in football money talks so we were never going to keep them.

    When we sold them instead if investing the money made back in the team we put it towards the training facility and the stadium and balancing the books. As a football team you could maybe look at not making the most out of it but as a football club and securing it's long term future with some excellent facilities to boot I think we took full advantage. We were maybe unlucky that after Fletcher left and we were then at the point where we really didn't need to sell that we stopped producing the same class of youngster. Yes Wotherspoon hanlon and booth are good young players they are not of the same quality as the others mentioned at the start of this post.

  • Comment number 12.

    Riordan may have become a spent force but that means he'd be no good in The Championship but there's no reason why he wouldn't perform here.
    Ned culture is exactly it, it pervades too many of our clubs and while our national manager begs two of them to come back into the fold after rightly being banned it'll never stop.
    The balance sheet was impressive, however the thing Petrie is lauded for is no longer happening, we are dropping further into debt and his trigger happiness and hiring of wrong managers hasn't helped.
    I think you have a point, Hearts should be above Hibs but that's only due to the money spent, that being said it would be terrible for you to go out of business like some Hibees have been saying.
    Hibs could have challenged if we held on to a few, we sold some too early and we shouldn't be selling to the Rangers or Celtic benches who just buy players from our teams to weaken us so there isn't a challenge.
    The difference between O'Neill compared to Fenlon and Kenny is he has experience in the Scottish game. Collins was the manager with the most potential as he worked at Monaco and Fulham and it was obvious he was someone who wanted to get players as passionate and as fit as he was, it's a pity the chairman didn't feel the same.

  • Comment number 13.

    Contrary to popular belief Hibs ARE in debt to the tune of £5.5m but everything outwith the team on the park is now in place. Because the team is no good crowds are down circa 25% and we have no-one left to sell to offset mounting operating losses. In short we're not much better off than anyone else in Scotland so we're unlikely to be breaking the mould any time soon - UNLESS the new manager is a genius and I'm not holding my breath. At least we'll be able to lord it over Hearts for a generation as they collapse and have to rebuild from more or less scratch - scant consolation TBH. See you in Perth next Saturday (weather permitting) !

  • Comment number 14.

    a decent blog jim. hibs sadly are relegation candidates this season. john collins should walk back into the job but he wont. his record was brilliant won one cup should have won another and topped the league after the first round of fixtures ( almost) playing the style of football worth forking out to see. failing collins o'neill ( michael) is a no brainer but he wont. the squad is awful laced with the fag end of hughes signings (atrocuous) and the glowing ash end of calderwoods signings ( mainly even worse) the next 'academicals' appear to be there but not graduating yet. the situation you describe is there for somebody but not hibs- motherwell have the squad and style of play but they will fall short. the key ingredient to a provincial challenge is stopping our useless referees gifting celtic and rangers countless points over a season. its the main reason they struggle in europe because the referees are able to referee consistently for both teams throughout the ninety minutes.

  • Comment number 15.

    You are right about getting the right man Jim, but as we all know it's pot luck.
    The appointment of TonyMowbray raised the eyebrows of most of the Hibs support, but to a degree it was a success.
    We missed the boat with John Collins.
    The 'Petriegate' affair was a disgrace. When the delegation arrived at Mr Petries home ,he should have locked his doors & told them to see the manager next day.
    Instead, four years on, we are still searching for the right formula.
    Hypothetical i know, but by now with JC in charge the world[ the SPl anyway!] could have been our oyster.
    I wish the next manager every success, but he will need an awful lot of luck & a great deal of help from what appears a very recalcitrant Hibs board.

  • Comment number 16.

    Apart from those who still blame everything on OF, Hibs took the decisions to sell and it was their choice to put ground and academy building before team building, some good posts.

    Agree that this is an opportunity not only for Hibs but any club that gets its act together but doubt that they'll take the chance. John Collins is the obvious choice but would probably never return as long as Petrie & co. are in charge,what a big mistake that was!!

    Don't agree about Dermot Desmond losing interest in Celtic though,where are his shares on offer?

    Off message but could anyone tell me the website that was set up after BBC made the idiotic decision to drop 606, I think it had this in the title but for the life of me I can't remember it. Thanks for any help.


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