IT IS no secret that Hibernian feel they permitted their promotion rivals a head start in last season’s Championship race.
Caught off guard by their drop out of the top flight, they say they were ill-prepared to stage a quick comeback.
That state of affairs has been a cause for irritation and regret for many at the club, including manager Alan Stubbs, who guided the team to second place in the league table but was unable to safely negotiate the promotion play-offs. That failure consigned them to another season in the second tier but with the announcement of a second new signing in the space of two days, they appear determined to learn from their mistakes.
If the off-field approach has been revised, displaying a more proactive and decisive stance, the nature of the signings suggests that on the pitch they will be sticking with a footballing philosophy they are comfortable with. Albeit one that they acknowledge has to be fine-tuned.
The ambition remains promotion but the emphasis will be on achieving it through a brand of attacking football. It was a sometimes flawed approach last term, with the team unable to turn domination of certain games into goals and victories but, describing the latest acquisition, Dan Carmichael, as “an exciting winger – direct, quick and clever”, the manager believes the former Queen of the South player will offer an extra dimension to the Easter Road side’s offensive threat.
“We’re delighted to be able to sign Dan – he gives us more attacking options and adds pace to the team in a number of positions. Every time I’ve seen him play, I’ve been impressed.”
The revelation that he snubbed interest from Premiership sides to join James Keatings in signing a two-year deal in Leith is an indication not of any lack of ambition but a sign that he firmly believes his personal goals can be met as a Hibs player.
“I want to play in the top flight, that’s natural for any player and there was some interest from Premiership teams but as soon as Hibs came calling it was a given for me to sign for them.
“Speaking to the manager as well only helped influence and sway my decision. The manager is a positive person and very attack-minded which suits me. I met the manager face-to-face and he showed me round the training facilities which are great and hopefully it will improve me as a player.
“There will be places up for grabs. Players won’t like being on the bench and that will give the manager a selection headache but that is a good thing. With decent players coming in that just strengthens the squad.
“The players that Hibs have here are great and the brand of attacking football that they play is an added attraction and that will suit me down to the ground.
“This is a great opportunity and I want to say thanks to the manager for giving me this chance. When I was at Queens we seemed to raise our game against Hibs and it was always hard to play against them.
“Queens made it hard for Hibs last season though, and we did well against them in the matches. It is sad to see the break-up of the Queens team that finished fourth last season and a lot of boys did well, but it was kind of accepted that a lot of the team would move on to bigger and better things.”
In the aftermath of their play-off defeat by Rangers, Stubbs insisted that automatic promotion was the goal for the upcoming campaign, which ties in with 24-year-old Carmichael’s ambitions and they have not been tempered by the reality of Rangers remaining in the Championship as well.
“A club of this size should be looking to get promoted and just to be involved in something like that would be great,” he added. “If all goes to plan I will be involved in the Premiership with Hibs.
“I don’t think Rangers staying in the Championship will affect our chances of being promoted next season. Rangers will be challenging for the Championship title but Hibs know what we can do with the players that we have at this club and we are well capable of winning the league and that is our aim.
“Hibs have great players in both defence and attack but going forward I think they were the best footballing side in the league and we will be well up there challenging because of that. Hibs were unlucky not to go up but we are a quality outfit and hopefully we can go one further now and get promotion.
“That’s why I didn’t bother with the result in the play-off final between Motherwell and Rangers.
“In terms of glamour, people will see that Hibs and Rangers are in the Championship again and the fans will love that. But we will just concentrate on ourselves and winning games.”