ALAN Stubbs has expressed his confidence he will guide Hibs back into the Premiership at the first attempt as he takes up the first managerial appointment of his career.
Exactly two weeks after Terry Butcher was sacked in the wake of relegation to the Championship, Stubbs was finally confirmed yesterday as Hibs’ seventh manager within the past eight years.
The 42-year-old, who has been handed the formal title of head coach by chief executive Leann Dempster as she looks to install a continental structure to the set-up at Easter Road, will be formally unveiled at a media conference tomorrow.
Stubbs, who has been in charge of the under-21 side at Everton since 2008, has never coached at first-team level before. But the former Celtic defender convinced Dempster during his interview that he is the right man to revive Hibs, landing him the job ahead of other candidates who included the club’s ex-assistant manager Mark Venus.
With stiff competition anticipated from Rangers and Hearts in an intriguing second tier of Scottish football in the new season, Stubbs will immediately face a stern test of his credentials.
“The Scottish Championship will be a tough division, but I’m confident that if we approach the challenge with enthusiasm, optimism and belief then we can achieve success,” he said.
“I’m excited about the future here at Hibernian and what we can all achieve together at the club – this is the start of the journey.
“To be given this opportunity with Hibernian is a great privilege and a real honour – it is a massive club with huge potential. I’ve been at Everton for almost six years and now I believe I’m ready to take on the role of head coach here at Hibernian.
“I would like to thank Everton for giving me the chance to take up this position with Hibernian and now I just can’t wait to get started; helping the club to earn promotion.”
For Dempster, the dismissal of Butcher and subsequent appointment of Stubbs constitute an early statement of intent to make an impact at Hibs following her move from Motherwell at the start of the month.
Having already recruited former Falkirk managing director and SFA Club Academy consultant George Craig as head of football operations, Dempster believes Stubbs fits perfectly into the new strategy she is putting in place.
“Alan will be our head coach and that is part of the new structure in place at the football club,” said Dempster. “It is a continental-style model designed for continued long-term success.
“There were strong candidates who applied for the position but after much consideration, Alan emerged as the stand-out choice.
“It’s important that the CEO and head coach are very much on the same page and that they forge a close working and trusting partnership.
“I spoke with Alan and it became apparent early in the discussions that we had a common goal. He is a driven, intelligent and strong-minded character, who has a very clear vision about what he wants to achieve in football – producing positive results, playing attractive football and developing young players.
“All those attributes fitted the criteria we required and we’re confident Alan is the right man to unite the club and bring success to Hibernian.
“We would like to place on record our gratitude to Everton for allowing us to appoint Alan. They have been professional in every aspect of the discussion – a testament to how highly they thought of Alan within their own coaching staff.
“Finally, we would like to thank our supporters for their patience so far. As a club we can all now look ahead optimistically towards the start of the new season.”
Stubbs, who was interviewed for the Everton manager’s job last year following the departure of David Moyes, but lost out to Roberto Martinez, was credited with a major role in the development of highly-rated youngsters Ross Barkley, John Stones and Luke Garbutt as they progressed to the first-team squad at Goodison Park.
Martinez paid tribute to Stubbs’ contribution at the club, which he believes made his move into front-line management inevitable.
“We wish Alan the very best of luck,” said Martinez. “The reality is when you work well and do things well, people will take notice.
“It reflects the excellent work done last season at the club and means it has been seen from the outside as well.
“We’re proud when those individuals that are Everton through and through get noticed and are given rewards and opportunities.”
Stubbs, who inherits a first-team squad of just 15 players at Hibs, had hoped to bring David Unsworth with him as his assistant, but the former England defender is instead expected to remain on the Everton coaching staff.
Hibs’ first pre-season friendly will be against Berwick Rangers at Shielfield Park on 12 July, while Stubbs’ maiden competitive fixture in charge will be a Challenge Cup first-round tie two weeks later.