ALAN Stubbs has insisted that the new campaign for supporters to take control of Hibernian will not be a distraction from his efforts to rebuild the team.
In a statement issued at its launch on Tuesday, fans’ umbrella body BuyHibs said that the club was “failing on and off the pitch”.
It was more a general comment on Hibs’ form over the past few years than a criticism of the current manager, but Stubbs responded by saying that, whatever had gone on in the past, he was confident that the team was getting better.
He said: “That’s irrelevant to me, because the most important thing for me is to focus on the team, and that’s what I’ll keep doing.
“It doesn’t bother me whatsoever, because I know I’m doing the right thing.
“There’s no point in me letting what’s going on off the pitch affect what’s going on on the pitch. And I won’t allow that to, so it won’t be used as an excuse whatsoever. We’ll just keep going on, and I know that we’re going in the right direction. That’s the most important thing.”
BuyHibs has united several supporters’ groups behind its plan to build up the funds to purchase the club from Sir Tom Farmer, arguing that under the owner, and chairman Rod Petrie, there had been a gradual decline at Easter Road.
But Stubbs said that, in his experience – both at matches and through visits to the club’s East Mains training ground – most fans understood that things had already turned round.
“You don’t stay at the end of 120 minutes and give the team a standing ovation if you don’t think there’s progress,” he said, referring to the League Cup tie against Dundee United, which Hibs lost on penalties.
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“I think they have seen progress on the pitch. If you want to read every quote or comment on social media, you’d end up pulling your hair out. Some things you’ve just got to not worry about. Am I worried about it? Not at all.
“It’s not going to detract from what we’re going to do. There will be a lot in the press, it’s something to write about, but it’s not going to distract or upset the players whatsoever. I’ll let all the groups and the press talk about it. We’ll do our talking on the pitch.
“I’ve had three fans’ groups at the training ground and a lot of them have gone away very positive and happy with what we’re doing here. That for me is the most important thing.
“I had 50 to 60 fans in here ten days ago and they were very positive about what we’re doing, about moving the club forward – at the end of the day, they want the best for the football club. Whatever that is, only time will tell.
“Probably people perceived that there was a breakdown in communications – there wasn’t that link [between club and fans] There was a distance.
“A lot of credit’s got to go to Leeann [Dempster, the chief executive] in trying to bridge that gap. Leeann has tried to be open and approachable and I think that’s all the fans wanted. It was never going to be ‘Open the doors and it’s all going to be a marriage made in heaven again’, but I think there have been real signs of progress in a short space of time.
“The players had to overcome a big psychological hurdle playing at Easter Road. Before I came, in the year I think they won three or four games. Since I’ve been here we’ve already surpassed that. I’ve been in the job four months, and I think we’ve done pretty well to even find ourselves where we are.
“So all credit to the players and the staff who have been a big part of it. We’ve come a long way in a short space of time. Nothing’s going to detract from what I’ve come here to do. And I mean nothing.”
Fourth-placed Hibs welcome Queen of the South to Edinburgh tomorrow, knowing that a win by two goals or more would take them above the Dumfries side into third place in the Championship.
Goalkeeper Mark Oxley is an injury doubt for the game, while Stubbs revealed that on-loan Celtic midfielder Dylan McGeouch will be out for some time as he recovers from an ankle operation.
The manager said: “Dylan has been fantastic for us, but the best course of action was for him to have an operation and, hopefully, he’ll be back sooner rather than later.
“There will be dialogue between us and Celtic and we’ll agree on a course of action that’s best for Dylan.
“He just needs a slight clean-up in the ankle area, in the joint, which is nothing too major. It’s in the best interests of Dylan and his career that he gets it done now.
“I think it was probably an accumulation of things. It’s maybe just been brewing, a knock in the game then a knock in training.”
One of the fans who visited East Mains reported on social media that Stubbs had said he would try to sign McGeouch from his parent club.
But the manager said his statement had been more one of general praise rather than an indication that he was determined to begin negotiations.
He said: “I think the comment was that I want to sign all good players. And I perceive Dylan to be a good player. Dylan’s Celtic’s player but, if anything did change, of course I’d be very interested in trying to sign him.”
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