Ex-colleagues’ Rangers v Hibs battle intrigues Naismith

Steven Naismith used to play with boss Alan Stubbs and David Weir at Everton. Picture: John Devlin
Steven Naismith used to play with boss Alan Stubbs and David Weir at Everton. Picture: John Devlin
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Steven Naismith is savouring the intrigue being provided by the Scottish Championship this season as two of his former Everton colleagues, David Weir and Alan Stubbs, go head to head for the title with Rangers and Hibs respectively.

Naismith believes Weir, assistant manager to Mark Warburton at Ibrox, will ultimately triumph in pursuit of the one automatic promotion place and a return to the top flight of Scottish football.

But the Scotland international has been impressed, if not surprised, by the manner in which Hibs boss Stubbs has kept the Easter Road squad in touch at the top while employing more than a few mind games towards his rivals.

“Alan is that type of character and it’s good for the entertainment value of the game,” said Naismith.

“You would see it when he was a coach at Everton. He was always up for a laugh and winding up the younger boys to keep them on their toes. He does it to get the best out of people.

“He has done well at Hibs. He was unfortunate last season that the league was so competitive, with both Hearts and Rangers in it.

“Rangers stormed it at the start of this season, playing some great football and looking as if they were running away with it. Hibs have done well to hang onto that and stay close to Rangers.

“There have been a few points dropped by Rangers in the last wee while and it’s going to be a tight race now. I think it will go right to the wire and the games between the two teams are going to be massive.”

Naismith left Rangers in the wake of their financial collapse in 2012, joining Everton where both Stubbs and then his former Ibrox team-mate Weir had spells on the coaching staff.

“I’d still speak to Stubbsy if I saw him but I’m pretty close to Davie, so I’m in touch with him quite a lot,” he added. “It’s great to see him and Mark Warburton finally building Rangers back towards where it was before 2012, instead of it going from mess to mess to mess as it has done.

“It’s great that everybody’s talking about the football, the way they’re playing and the goals they’re scoring. Long may it continue. Most of the stuff you hear or read now is all about the football and the rivalry with Hibs to get up and the way they’re 
playing.

“It’s fantastic to see. Mark Warburton has got a real way of building the club all the way through. It’s not a quick fix, just coming in and saying we’ll do this and get back on track. It’s the whole way from the youth set-up and building up a squad.

“That’s what it’s been crying out for. It’s great to see. I’m sure Rangers will go up this year and then we’ll get back to some good Old Firm games and a good rivalry for the Premiership title race, rather than what it is at at the moment.”