Hibernian manager Terry Butcher has confirmed that he has spoken with several players about “moving on” although he declined to reveal the identity of those who do not feature in his long-term plans for the club.
With their first-team chances having proved limited under the new manager, Kevin Thomson, Rowan Vine and Tom Taiwo are reported to have been told that they can begin looking for new clubs.
While Butcher would not name the players involved in such discussions, the Hibernian manager has revealed that Jamie Murphy was an erstwhile signing target – before he started scoring goals again for Sheffield United. Butcher has already experienced the frustrations of the January transfer window. As well as Murphy’s run of form, the risk of un-named managers losing their jobs has also helped scupper plans to recruit names from a list of targets compiled by chief scout Steve Marsella.
“We’ve had to scrub a few names off Steve’s list already,” said Butcher. “A few managers we’ve spoken to have been scrubbed out by other clubs because, at the moment, a phone call from us seems to mean their position is in jeopardy! We’re the kiss of death at the moment. Steve has done a lot of work speaking to managers and agents. Things have been set up then the manager has been bumped off.”
After pinpointing Murphy, who he worked with during their time together at Motherwell, as a potential loan signing, Butcher’s cause would have been helped had the striker then faded from view.
Instead, the opposite has happened. As Butcher was preparing his team-lines for the next day’s trip to Tannadice last weekend he looked up at the television and saw the bullet of information that meant he suspected the chase was already up.
Murphy had scored again, against Aston Villa in a 2-1 FA Cup victory this time. The goal was his third in recent weeks as the former Motherwell player enjoys a period of rejuvenation at Bramall Lane.
“Jamie Murphy has scored three in four games, the b*stard,” joked Butcher yesterday, ahead of tonight’s Premiership fixture against Aberdeen at Pittodrie. “He will not be joining us. I’ve spoken to Nigel [Clough] and he will not be joining us.
“I was very interested in Jamie. I know him very well and he would have done very well for us. But he’s doing very well for Sheffield United and fair play to him. He’s one of the guys we’ve talked about who has now done well for his team! It’s frustrating. You could say it’s good judgement to have been interested in him, thank you very much. But I could say ‘Oh no, Lionel Messi has scored again’ – we certainly weren’t after him.”
Butcher refuted the suggestion that any arrivals depended on players going out, after the high turnover in personnel during recent times at Hibs. “I don’t have to let players go in order to bring people in, not at all,”
he said. “And no-one has been released. Not as yet.”
However, he did not dispute that current squad members would likely be departing. “I’m not saying that players leaving this football club are bad players,” he explained. “Certainly not. But I’ve got my opinion on how we should play, it’s a formula that has worked pretty well so far, and I will stick to it. You will make tweaks here and there.”
Butcher refused to name those who have been given a tap on the shoulder, although he did confirm that former Motherwell defender Tim Clancy, who has not played this season due to a groin complaint, was still at the club at the current time. “He’s injured at the moment, so he’s not available,” he said. “What I will say is I’ve spoken to several players at the club about moving on,” Butcher added. “Those conversations will remain private until something does happen. But players are players, they want to play. And I can understand their frustration if they’re training during the week and not playing at the weekend.”
As for the likes of Thomson, who has made only one brief appearance under Butcher as substitute, the manager stressed that he is not the type to make out-of-the-picture players train by themselves. “It’s very amicable, it’s part of football life,” he said. “These guys continue training with us, all training together. There are certain things you can do as a manager, if you want to be nasty, but there’s nothing like that here. If you are honest to players and players are honest with you, things will work out. It’s just a natural progression, the evolution of any football club. Players move on, players change. Managers change, too. But that’s a different story.”