Rowan Vine says that Terry Butcher was the wrong fit for Hibs from the start and reckons the sacked manager made a rod for his own back when he “alienated” the club’s most experienced players.
Vine arrived at Easter Road last summer following an impressive season with St Johnstone but failed to score in 14 outings under Pat Fenlon and was frozen out completely by Butcher after his arrival to replace the Irishman in November.
The one-time £3 million Birmingham City signing was not the only player to be told he no longer had a future at Easter Road, with defender Tim Clancy and midfielders Kevin Thomson and Tom Taiwo also informed on Butcher’s arrival they were free to find new clubs in the January transfer window.
Former club captain James McPake claimed on his release last month that he had been fit following back surgery for ten weeks without having his services called on by Butcher as the team slipped painfully towards relegation to the Championship with little on-field leadership.
Vine, who is currently on the lookout for a new club after spending the second half of the season with Morton, insists his assessment of Butcher’s tenure is not based on sour grapes.
The 31-year-old is clear in his view that the former England captain made serious mistakes upon his arrival from Inverness to take over a team in seventh spot, and must accept the repercussions of presiding over relegation with a team Vine claims was good enough to comfortably retain top-flight status.
The former Luton Town and QPR striker said: “My feeling is that Hibs maybe didn’t do enough homework on what was needed after Pat Fenlon left. Whether they knew what Terry Butcher’s style of management was like, I don’t know.
“When you go through the process of getting a new manager, you need to highlight what is needed at the club and I didn’t feel he was the right person.
“Having spoken to Owain Tudur Jones, who played under Terry Butcher at Inverness, I was expecting a little bit more from him, in terms of motivation and enthusiasm. I didn’t really see that at all. People say that’s what he’s all about but I didn’t see it.
“There was little togetherness between the players and the manager and that was apparent at the end of the season when they needed wins. In my time there I didn’t see a smooth relationship.
“He alienated experienced players from day one and that was tough on the younger players as well, for them to see guys with thousands of games between them being cut adrift.
“The only reason Tom Taiwo and Kevin Thomson played a few games was because the results didn’t go well, but they were discarded the same way as myself and Tim Clancy.
“He might have looked at the strong characters within the squad and not seen that as a positive, and tried to alienate people. But, whatever the reasons, he didn’t make people feel good from day one.”
Butcher’s tenure got off to a good start when he oversaw just one defeat – away to Celtic – in his first nine games in charge, and Hibs still harboured top-six hopes in March.
But one win in the last 19 matches ahead of the catastrophic play-off defeat by Hamilton Accies was proof enough of an unhappy club.
And, although he feels the timing may have been a bit surprising, largely down to the arrival of new chief executive Leeann Dempster, Vine has confessed he was not shocked when the chop finally arrived for Butcher on Tuesday.
He added: “When Pat left there was a pressure to get results at the start but I think the wins were papering over the cracks.
“They were not based on good performances, I didn’t see a massive improvement, and that’s not sour grapes from me – I knew I wasn’t going to be involved from my first conversation with the manager.
“A lot of people wanted it to be a good start, Hibs supporters want success and they deserve success, and I’m very surprised they didn’t get results towards the end of the season because the boys were good enough.
“But I wasn’t surprised that the club decided the manager had to go.
“They would have been getting away with it a little bit if they had stayed up, but relegation obviously brings a lot more stress and taking a team down that are not expected to be relegated leaves the club with little option.”