TERRY Butcher has not yet signed his contract to join Hibs, it emerged last night. His assistant Maurice Malpas confirmed that the manager’s final deal is not done and that Malpas’s own position has not even been discussed.
Scorers: Inverness CT - Ross, 14pen; McKay 18
Malpas said: “People are presuming I am involved in this but I am not. Everybody says it is done and dusted but Terry tells me otherwise.
“I would expect when Terry makes his mind up I will be involved in some way, whether that is ‘you’re not coming’ or ‘do you want to come’ or whatever.”
Caretaker Hibs boss Jimmy Nicholl is in no doubt about Butcher’s move to Hibs, however: “I’ve already cleared my desk.”
Caley Thistle thoroughly deserved their win, outplaying Hibs in all departments, and are back in second place in the Premiership. If Butcher does appear as the new manager at Easter Road tomorrow, as is widely reported, he leaves Inverness in fine fettle after four years in charge.
The big Englishman sat supposedly incognito in the main stand, but the flat cap was a dead giveaway, as was the presence of agent and former Hibs goalkeeper Jim McArthur beside him. Oh, and another ex-Hibs man, Kenny Miller, was also in the stand, and he just happens to be on the hunt for a club.
In the boardroom, the chairmen of Hibs and Caley Thistle discussed the compensation package which the Edinburgh club will have to pay. Relations between the two sets of directors were said by a source to be “perfectly courteous and amicable” and that tells its own story.
In the second half, the Caley Thistle fans sang “Butcher, Butcher what’s the score” but it only took 18 minutes of the first half for the home crowd to settle on booing their own players. By then, the visitors were two up and in total command, with only some poor passbacks and comedy moments by goalkeeper Dean Brill halting their forward march.
After 14 minutes, the excellent Graeme Shinnie was blatantly shoved by James Collins in the penalty area and referee Bobby Madden pointed to the spot. Nick Ross blasted the ball high past Ben Williams, who did get a finger to the ball.
Four minutes later, McKay did the scoring himself, chasing Ross’s adroit through ball into the area, knocking it past Williams and Ryan McGivern, and sliding the ball home from an acute angle. Another four minutes later and it was Aaron Doran’s turn again to pour through the Hibs colander, his cross being turned goalwards by Maybury and the ball rebounding off the post.
“We were disgraceful,” said
Williams, who said the players had been told they were “auditioning” for Butcher.
Disgraceful they certainly were in the first half. Even short passes they could have made in their sleep went astray, and they seemed scared of getting a nosebleed as they approached the Inverness box.
The shambolic nature of Hibs was exemplified after 38 minutes when, as Tom Taiwo was bring treated for an injury, the Hibs players could be seen arguing among themselves about who should be where and doing what. If that happens under Butcher, they will find that even at a mellow 54, the big fellow can still apply swift severe punishment to a gluteus maximus – figuratively speaking, of course.
Jordan Forster might have won a penalty if the referee had seen that Brill accidentally punched the big Hibs defender when going for a cross but, as it was, Forster needed treatment for a head knock.
Hibs made a better fist of things in the second half with the combative Rowan Vine, the tricky Abdellah Zoubir and, later, the bustling Jason Cummings replacing the possibly injured Taiwo, and the ineffectual McGivern and Collins.
The Hibs defence suddenly realised they were all wearing the same colour of jersey, and the midfield and strikers started to keep possession and even win corners.
Meanwhile, Inverness always looked dangerous on the break,
Doran curling one shot nearly past, while Shinnie magnificently led a solid defence, heading a Hibs effort off the line.
At the other end, Williams foiled McKay as he looked ready to score, while Marley Watkins fluffed his effort after 75 minutes.
Inverness headed back up the A9 with victory. Butcher went the same way, no doubt with a lot on his mind.
Hibernian: Williams, Maybury, Hanlon, Forster, McGivern (Vine 45), Taiwo (Zoubir 45), Robertson, Stevenson, Thomson, Collins (Cummings 62), Heffernan.
Subs not used: Murdoch, Tudur Jones, Cairney, McPake.
Inverness CT: Brill, Tremarco, Warren, Meekings, Shinnie, Doran, Draper, Watkins (Polworth 90), Ross, Foran, McKay.
Subs not used: Esson, Raven, Devine, Greenhalgh, Pepper, Agdestein.
Ref: B Madden