Hibs signed up John McGinn in the summer in the belief that he could help them achieve their short-term aims. But they were also fairly confident he would prove to be a decent long-term investment.
Less than a season on and it is already a shrewd acquisition, with his value soaring. A key performer in the Easter Road side, he also earned his first full cap in Scotland’s midweek victory over Denmark, attracting plaudits and winning the man of the match award and while the capital club can take some pride in the achievements, club manager Alan Stubbs says it is the player himself who deserves credit.
“We felt that he was not just an investment but he had potential to be better than what he was showing,” said Stubbs. “We were quite confident that he had a lot of ability to progress. His team-mates and the club have played a part in that but whenever a player improves, it’s because of one person and that’s down to him.
“Everybody can take a bit of credit for that but John is the one that deserves the most credit. We’ve given him an environment to better himself, we’ve given him a programme where we can improve on certain aspects of his game we’ll keep working on him to make him an even better player. The one thing with John is that he has got a lot of improvement in him, this is not the finished article. It’s at the beginning of his improvement, not the middle or the end.”
Having laid out £200,000 for him, Stubbs is unwilling to place a price on his current worth. “I’ll let other people decide that! The most important thing is that he’s worth a lot to the team,” said Stubbs. “The rest, the value is irrelevant right now but the one thing it’s doing is going upwards.
“We’ve got a real asset on our hands now. That’s what we want to do, we want to bring young players, as well as older players – players that can help the club on a financial footing as well. All players to a certain extent become investments. Buying them short-term, only big clubs can really afford to do that but we need to see recycling and bringing players in and selling them on for really good money.”
Having spoken to the player in the aftermath of his Hampden outing, Stubbs said it had been a proud moment for the club and the player, describing McGinn as “a young boy that looked like he had been given the freedom of a sweet shop. He was very excited.”
A player who is said to train the way he plays, with full commitment, the only downside to his success this season has been the number of games he has racked up and the number he still needs to negotiate if Hibs are to have the dream finale and get to a Scottish Cup final and safely negotiate the play-offs and a return to the top flight.
For those ambitions to be fulfilled the entire squad will need to dig deep, starting in Paisley on Saturday. With nine games in 28 days, they have a gruelling schedule ahead and better standards than those set in the build-up to the international break are being demanded.
“We lost four league games and the last performance against Raith was the most disappointing for me,” said Stubbs. “I told the players in no uncertain terms that I wasn’t happy about it. We had a discussion after the game and it was probably the most annoyed that any of them had seen me since I’d been here.
“I wasn’t throwing things about or anything like that but I possibly might have done if anything was in my way. But we came back in this week and you could see the break has done them well.
“It was a good opportunity for them to go away and assess their performances and to see that they had dropped below the required standard.”