TERRY Butcher has promised to bring to Hibernian the qualities he believes have typified Inverness Caledonian Thistle under his command: “stamina, style and steel”.
The former England captain completed his move from the Highlands to Hibs yesterday, agreeing a three-year deal to manage the Edinburgh club. He and assistant manager Maurice Malpas expect to be joined shortly by Steve Marsella, who was chief scout and goalkeeping coach at Caley Thistle and was credited with uncovering some of that club’s key players.
Having become Hibs’ seventh manager in the last eight years, Butcher is acutely conscious that the club needs stability behind the scenes. Explaining he would be in no rush to move into the transfer market when the window opens in January, he said he and Malpas would demand a lot of the current squad but would also do their best to restore some badly-needed confidence.
“There are good players here,” Butcher said. “Some are low on confidence, some need a bit of a cuddle or a bit of a kick, cajoling, shouting at, a bit of praise as well. We’re just assessing their characters and their strengths, looking at what they want to do.
“Already in training, the first session, it was intense. James McPake was flying in with a few tackles. It was a bit scary at times. But you can see that they have a hunger and desire to get back to winning matches. During a season, you don’t get much of an opportunity to take stock. We’ve had that now. With our help and tuition, they can improve and regain confidence. That is what they’re lacking, confidence.
“I haven’t kicked a backside for ages. I haven’t needed to. But it’s not about kicking backsides. It’s about trying to give the boys confidence. Some will need a prod, some will need some praise, but we don’t know their characters yet. How far away is January? That’s unfair on the players who are here. We can’t change things now and it all [depends] on what they do.
“I could easily say I want to bring in seven or eight players, but we have to go with the budget we’ve got and what’s available. But I want the current squad to cut the spending and what needs to be done in January. They’re playing for the jersey, the club and their careers.”
Butcher’s present and previous clubs played each other at Easter Road on Saturday, with the away team winning 2-0. While declining to say how many Caley Thistle players he would like to see in green and white in the near future, the new Hibs manager did state that some of the qualities shown by his old team in that game were exactly what he wanted from his new squad.
“There are all kinds of ways you set your team out to play. In a way, just like Caley Thistle, I said it was about stamina, style and steel there.
“If you looked at Saturday’s Caley Thistle team, you would say they had that in abundance and it is something we want to instil in our players here. The players are very proud as well, here at Hibs. They certainly don’t enjoy losing matches.
“We want to get back to that winning habit. They’ve not won for a while, and we’d like to get that back. There are some great players here and it’s a great club and I am looking forward to it.
“We’re not bottom of the table: we’re mid-table. We’re five points away from the top six and that’s catchable. The first target is to get into the top six and stay there and see how far we can go after that.
“We’re under no illusions – we have to turn things round and turn them round quickly. We have to make sure the players regain confidence and regain a belief in themselves. We’re confident they can do that very quickly.”
Malpas, who took charge of Caley Thistle for Saturday’s match and refused afterwards to say where his future lay, admitted yesterday that by then he had more or less made his mind up to accompany Butcher. “I probably decided in the middle of last week. There was nothing said or decided until after last Saturday’s game as I had to prepare the team to come here. I found that difficult.
“When that was done and dusted, it was about making a real decision. I was given permission by the club to speak to Hibs and, having spoken to Terry beforehand, it was quite an easy decision for me.
“Anyone who knows me, they know I love training. The facilities are fantastic, so is the stadium and the fanbase and I just felt the potential of the club was too much for me to knock back.
“It would have been easier for me to sit at Inverness. Financially it would have been better, but we worked together.
“My best five years in coaching were up at Inverness, but it was time to move on. I joined Caley Thistle with Terry, and always said I would leave with Terry.”