NEW Hibernian manager Alan Stubbs had made former Manchester United full-back David Gray his first Easter Road signing.
Edinburgh-born Gray, 26, was at Hearts as a boy but a £50,000 fee took him to Old Trafford. He graduated from Manchester United’s youth ranks before moving on to spells with Preston and Stevenage.
A former Scotland Under-21 international, Gray is thrilled to be heading back to his home city after agreeing a two-year contract.
Gray said: “I’m delighted to be at Hibs – being an Edinburgh boy I fully understand what the club is all about and the exciting challenge ahead. Everything about the move made sense – I’ve got a young family and we were keen to come back up the road to Scotland. This is a great opportunity to play for a big club and to be part of something memorable.
“I’m honoured to be Alan’s first signing – he comes across really well – and now I can’t wait to get started. Our first competitive game of the season is against Rangers in the Cup and then two games later we’ve got an Edinburgh derby. So there is plenty to look forward to and I’m pleased to be a part of it.”
Stubbs, who replaced Terry Butcher following the club’s relegation to the Scottish Championship, said: “It’s fantastic that I’ve made David my first signing – he is a quality player with plenty of experience and a first-class attitude. We identified that right-back was a priority for us in terms of areas that needed strengthening within the squad.
“So we’re delighted that David has decided to join our club – he’s equally excited by the challenge of playing for a big club like Hibs. Hopefully David’s arrival will be the first of many new signings at the club over the next few weeks.”
Meanwhile. Hibs stalwart Lewis Stevenson admits it feels like deja vu all over again as he attempts to win over an eighth manager during his time at Easter Road.
But the versatile midfielder insists he has a “good feeling” about the latest man at the helm after a heartening first fortnight under Stubbs.
Stevenson, still only 26, is entering his tenth season in the first-team and has seen the Hibs job become Scottish football’s great poison chalice. He has already played under Tony Mowbray, John Collins, Mixu Paatelainen, John Hughes, Colin Calderwood, Pat Fenlon and Terry Butcher – and he is ready to prove himself all over again to the latest incumbent.
“I don’t keep a running tally,” he said. “I think it’s eight I have played under now. But I’ve got a good feeling about the new manager. I’ve been here before. Everyone gets a fresh start and you need to get your head down and prove yourself to the manager. I’ll need to do it all over again. Sometimes it has taken me a while and sometimes I’ve been straight in. I certainly know it is going to be tough. The manager has come in with new ideas and I’m sure there are going to be loads more players coming in. It will be difficult but, for the club, it will good competition.”
Stevenson has echoed the lavish praise of skipper Liam Craig as Stubbs makes his mark on pre-season training.
Craig described the new set-up as “fresh” and “exciting”, while confirming that several players would have likely left the club if previous boss Butcher was still in charge. And Stevenson has been equally impressed by start of the Stubbs era at Easter Road. “It’s been positive and, even though it’s pre-season, everyone has enjoyed it so far,” continued Stevenson. “Alan has brought a bit of positivity. It’s never nice to see anyone leave or players leave, but it does feel like a fresh start this season and it gives everybody a clean slate to prove themselves. What happened last season is behind us and we just need to focus on this season and I think we’ve got a great chance. It’s going to be a tough league but it would be a great league to win.”
Meanwhile, Paul Heffernan and Scott Robertson are expected to be fit to face Berwick Rangers on Saturday after missing Hibs’ first pre-season outing.