Maurice Malpas: ‘Out-of-touch’ label bothered me

Maurice Malpas feared his time at Hibs had ruined his career. Picture: SNS
Maurice Malpas feared his time at Hibs had ruined his career. Picture: SNS
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MAURICE Malpas has angrily hit out at critics of his coaching style after admitting he feared he would never land another job in football due to being “tarred” by his time at Hibernian.

Malpas, 52, endured a disastrous six months at Easter Road as assistant to Terry Butcher, with the club embarking on a run of one win in 18 matches as they slipped into a relegation play-off.

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It went from bad to worse as Alex Neil’s vibrant young Hamilton came back from a 2-0 first leg deficit to condemn the Hibees to the drop on their own patch.

The management team was subsequently sacked by incoming chief executive Leeann Dempster. While Butcher bore the brunt of the criticism for a catastrophic end to the campaign, Malpas saw his man management style and coaching methods savaged in some quarters.

And, despite having developed a thick skin during 35 years in the game as a player, coach and manager, he admits to being infuriated by suggestions that he was an “old timer” and out of touch with the modern game.

Malpas said: “Football is a strange business – you can get tarred very quickly. I was only at Hibs for a very short period of time before losing my job and that hurt me. A lot of things were said about me that weren’t true and I wasn’t in a position to speak out about that – it was difficult. I didn’t enjoy that.

“You get accused of being one of the “old timers” and all that crap. I’m still trying to work that one out – football is football, training is training.

“The periphery of the game – in terms of fitness coaches, sports scientists and dieticians – has changed, but the game is still the same. It’s a bit quicker because players are fitter, the balls are lighter and the pitches are better. But we are still coaching players to pass and move and put the ball in the net. That will never change. So when you get hit with these stupid criticisms of being old fashioned, out of touch, or whatever else, it annoys me.

“I’ve only been out of the game for six months in nearly 40 years but, with everything that went on, you do get worried about whether you’ll get back in.”

Malpas acknowledges the advent of social media has amplified criticism in a way which was previously unthinkable.

He recalled: “When I played the fans used to give you pelters during the games and you might bump into them in the street, but they’d never give you any hassle.

“Now, before the game is even finished people are criticising. And I can guarantee you that 90 per cent haven’t even been to the game, they’ll have listened to some moron who was at it and didn’t enjoy it.

“If you say anything back, you get slaughtered, if you don’t say anything you get slaughtered.”

Malpas is now visibly more relaxed and enjoying a “blank canvas” as director of football at Raith Rovers. With his new role encompassing scouting, infrastructure, budget planning and aiding manager Grant Murray, Malpas admits he is enthused by the completely new role.

He said: “Hopefully I can use my experience, pass a few things on and encourage people to improve. Grant has left himself with a hell of a lot to do in this job and if I can help him in any way then it’s something I’m keen to do.”

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