KEVIN Thomson dreams of managing Hibs one day.
For now, though, he would settle for keeping them in the Premiership and doing enough to earn himself an extended playing contract. With management part of his plans for the future, he had signed up to complete his coaching A licence this summer. Unfortunately, the delay in wrapping up the season, with Hibs still mired in a play-off tussle with Hamilton, forced him to cancel his place on the course. He just hopes the sacrifice proves worth it.
Thomson said: “I was meant to be there last week, but, obviously, the play-offs have been a spanner in the works. But I will just need to do it next year. Scotty [Brown] and Whitty [Steven Whittaker] did their B last year, so the only bonus of missing out this year is it means we can all do the A together next year.”
The trio were part of a golden generation of kids who came through the ranks to boost Hibs’ standing with silverware and third-place finishes achieved under John Collins and Tony Mowbray.
It was a period to be enjoyed by the supporters but those spells have been fleeting since, with embarrassing defeats on the big stage and bottom-six finishes the norm in the last few years. This afternoon Hibs have to safely negotiate the second leg of the Premiership play-off with Hamilton to ensure relegation isn’t added to their resumé.
Hibs’ hopes of escape were bolstered by a 2-0 win in the first leg on Wednesday but no one is taking anything for granted.
“Why have we underachieved? I wish I did know,” added the former captain who now has even loftier ambitions. “Because I would love to manage the team and I hope I have a recipe to make this club successful. That is a boyhood dream.
“I don’t know why the team, and the club as a whole, has not been as successful as it should have been in the last five or six years. I wish I had an answer. I know the club has gone through numerous managers, but we now have a manager who has a proven record – coming from a team second in the league – so, hopefully, he can turn things around.”
The general consensus is that the manager, Terry Butcher, will need to make sweeping changes to the playing squad to do that. He has refused to discuss individuals while the club’s fate has still to be decided but he will meet the players tomorrow to put some out of their misery or simply confirm the fears of others.
Thomson is one of those out of contract this summer. Having taken a while to earn a place in Butcher’s starting line-up, he has been linked with moves to Rangers and even city rivals Hearts. He has heard the rumours but he won’t discuss them, saying it would be unfair to do so. But he does acknowledge that he may need a new employer next season. He would prefer to stay at Hibs, though.
“Whenever a manager comes into a club he comes in with new ideas. Ultimately, he has to pick the team and he needs to put his head on the block – that’s what football is. If you’re not playing in the team you’re obviously frustrated but the manager has been honest with everybody and, as a player, that’s all you can ask for.
“Everybody – the players, the staff, the punters – know I would love to be here for the foreseeable future. But, if the manager wants to build a team without Kevin Thomson, then I will need a new job and will need to look at my options. I think everyone is in on Monday. I’m sure the manager will sit down with all the boys and tell them where they stand. I don’t feel I need to prove to anyone I can play at this level. If you asked all the players and the 15-16,000 who will be there on Sunday if they would have me at the club, I think you’d get the answer that they’d love to have me at the club,” added Thomson
But he has been in football long enough to know that the game doesn’t deliver on every dream and that this afternoon’s crucial match could be Thomson’s last as a Hibs player.
He said: “I said to my family that, when I came off against Partick Thistle, that I would be disappointed if that was my last appearance for the club.
“It will be the same if Sunday is my last appearance. I’ll be sad, but I’m a big boy and I’ve left clubs before. It is part and parcel [of the game].
“If the manager wants to sit down in the summer, great, if he doesn’t, I’ll wish the club all the best and move on to a new challenge somewhere else. But my performance levels have been as good as anybody when I’ve played.”