Scottish football needs Hibernian in the top flight, according to Gordon Strachan. But the Scotland manager, who grew up dreaming of playing for the Easter Road side – an ambition only ever realised in testimonial matches – says his statement is based on more than sentiment, writes Moira Gordon.
Which is why the former Dundee player would also like to see United promoted as well.
“For the good of Scottish football, we want Hearts, Hibs, Dundee, Dundee United in the league all the time playing derbies. We need that regularly and we need somehow to make sure these clubs are in the league because if we have Hibs-Hearts derbies, more crowds, Dundee-Dundee United derbies, more crowds, better television, more money, can buy better players. It’s quite simple really.”
It is his former Celtic captain, Neil Lennon, who is charged with delivering on that target, having assumed responsibility for Hibs’ Championship escape bid in the summer.
“I went to the training ground last Friday. He’s happy, everybody’s happy when you’re club’s winning. Every fan says ‘I want to see this type of football, that type of football’. No they don’t, they just want to see winning football.
“[Liverpool manager Jurgen] Klopp hasn’t done well in the last month. They’re playing some beautiful football but they’re not winning. That’s what you wanted? Shut up! All fans want is winning football and that man, who was the best manager in the world a month ago, is only being mentioned on the phone-ins now.”
Hibs, though, have been piecing together the victories needed to take them clear at the top and are edging closer to the title and promotion. An influencing factor has been the return of Scotland midfielder John McGinn to full fitness, which is good for Strachan and the national team as well.
“He’s brilliant. I saw him last Friday. He’s what I call a radiator. He walks in the room and the place radiates. There’s more to him. He’ll be a right good player.”