IAN Murray insists he would have to think hard about his “long-term ambitions” if he was to be offered the opportunity to become the next manager of his former club Hibernian.
The former Easter Road captain has been installed as the bookmakers’ 6-4 favourite to become Hibs’ eighth boss in the last ten years following the sacking of Terry Butcher last week.
The 33-year-old has built up a considerable reputation for himself since taking his first steps in management with Dumbarton in November 2012, steering his part-time side to within a whisker of a promotion play-off spot last season in his first full campaign in charge. With Hibs revealing they are in the process of whittling down more than 40 applications for their vacant post, and new chief executive Leeann Dempster admitting they are likely to ‘target’ other candidates who do not come forward, Murray is likely to be seriously considered by the capital club as they look to make a new appointment this week.
Mark Venus, assistant to revered former manager Tony Mowbray, ex-Netherlands striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and former Fulham and Manchester United coach Jonathan Hill have become the latest names to be linked with the job over the weekend.
However, Murray is adamant it would be wrong to assume he would blindly accept any opportunity to manage the club he supported as a boy if it comes around.
The former Scotland defender said: “People think, a bit disrespectfully to myself and Dumbarton, that I would automatically jump at the chance.
“Of course, it’s an attractive job, but you also have to think about long-term ambitions and where you want to go.
“Any player growing up wants to play for the club they support – and I managed to do that.
“I know I’m going to be labelled because I’m ex-Hibs, but it’s not a closed-book case.
“I don’t agree with people asking me ‘have you taken Dumbarton as far as you can?’
“I always use a very extreme case of Sir Alex Ferguson winning the treble. If that was the case, then he would have chucked it then. But you want to do it again and again.”
Having spent the last season and a half managing Dumbarton in the Championship, Murray has a good understanding of what Hibs will need in the division next term after suffering the embarrassment of relegation.
And, with Rangers and Hearts already seeking to land just one automatic promotion spot, the veteran of more than 300 appearances for the Easter Road club fears they are already facing an uphill battle.
He said: “The fall from grace in such a short space of time is remarkable, but it’s a big job in any division.
“The problem is Hibs are in a position they never thought they would be in, so there was no plan B.
“Hearts have known pretty much for the last year that they were going down and Rangers have been planning for two years, so it’s the worst possible time for Hibs to be there.
“For teams like Dumbarton it’s a fantastic division and if any of those three underestimate the challenge they will be in for a rude awakening because there are some good players and good teams.”