THERE is clearly an element of risk attached to Hibs’ appointment of Alan Stubbs as their new head coach, given his lack of any previous first-team experience in the technical area.
But it is a risk worth taking, according to the Easter Road club’s legendary former goalkeeper Alan Rough who has backed chief executive Leeann Dempster for avoiding the conventional route in recruiting a successor to Terry Butcher.
“Every manager is a gamble, particularly at Hibs,” said Rough. “In fact, everything at Hibs has been a gamble for the last wee while. But you have to give Alan Stubbs a chance.
“He has been around the game for a long, long time now. He comes to Hibs with a very good CV. He has spent his career at top clubs and has been coaching at Everton with their under-21s for a few years now. So it is a new start for Hibs and it seems to be the way ahead for clubs nowadays when it comes to bringing managers in.
“The guys who have a track record, who have been managers for years and years, are no longer the top choice. There appears to have been a switch in favour of up-and-coming guys and we’ve seen that in Scotland in recent times with the likes of Jackie McNamara at Dundee United and Derek McInnes at Aberdeen.
“The main thing is that Hibs have got to get it right this time. The biggest thing for Alan Stubbs will be to get players into the club on a long-term basis. For too long now, it’s mainly been about short-term signings and loan players. There has been no stability or continuity in terms of the club or the team.
“The classic example was the Scottish Cup final against Hearts in 2012 when six of the players who appeared for Hibs at Hampden were on loan. Everyone has been coming in and out of the club in the last few years.
“All of us could pick a Hibs team full of players who have left the club too soon. So it’s time that they stopped that, time that players started to stay and give the team some continuity under the manager.”
Stubbs takes charge of Hibs at a time of significant unrest among supporters following relegation from the Premiership.
But Rough, who made 206 appearances for the club from 1982 to 1987, believes his former team-mate Paul Kane’s campaign to oust chairman Rod Petrie is unlikely to succeed.
“I don’t think Mr Petrie is going to leave,” added Rough. “He’s like everybody else in these positions, he holds down other positions with the SFA. Him walking away from Hibs would mean he’d also have to walk away from being vice-president of the SFA and sitting on the committees he is on.
“But I think if the fans see that he’s no longer making the big decisions, then they’ll be quite happy with that.
“It is important that Mr Petrie hasn’t got a say in anything that’s going to happen with Alan Stubbs, because with recent history and the way the supporters are reacting, he can’t afford to get it wrong again.
“Once the season starts, once the manager’s come in, once players begin to be signed, then the focus will be taken away from Petrie. I think that’s what Leeann Dempster is trying to do just now.
“She’s trying to take the focus away from him and that’s not only a good thing for the club, but also for Rod Petrie.
“I don’t find it hard to believe what has happened to Hibs, because I think we all know how bad it has become over the last few years. The fans definitely know and the decline on the pitch has been incredible.
“In all fairness to Mr Petrie, the training ground is second to none and the stadium is wonderful. But any supporter just wants to see players on the park. They’re not bothering about training facilities and although of course they like a nice stadium, they turn up every week to see what’s on the park.
“That’s what Hibs will be judged by. The Hibs fans are extremely loyal. You’ve also seen it with Hearts and Rangers in recent years – when the chips are down, the fans hang on in there. They have to believe that things will get better.
“The Championship is clearly going to be a difficult league to get out of, with Rangers and Hearts there. You would have to say Hearts have a start on Hibs already, with most of their squad in place and really good season ticket sales. Hibs have to try and do the same, to convince the supporters to buy season tickets
“But I feel Hibs have got a lot to do to convince the supporters that they can finally believe again.”
l Alan Rough was speaking as he helped to promote Thursday night’s Saints & Sinners Racenight at Hamilton Park. Ticket details are available at www.hamilton-park.co.uk