LEARNING from mistakes and improving have been massive factors in Hibernian’s season under Alan Stubbs but while the players have developed on the park, in the wake of more off-field negativity, he wants that education to extend beyond the stadium and training ground.
Jason Cummings was the focus of unsavoury news stories after muffins were allegedly thrown in an early morning fracas at a McDonald’s restaurant in Edinburgh’s Gorgie Road.
While those close to the striker insist he was merely a bystander as the food went flying, the fact he wasn’t smart enough to distance himself from the events as they escalated has dismayed some inside the club.
As Stubbs prepares the side for a trip to Alloa in a bid to extend the unbeaten run that now sees Hibs embroiled in an engrossing battle for second place in the Championship, his manager was adamant that they wouldn’t be airing any dirty linen in public but said that every player had to be aware that they were under scrutiny every time they were out in public.
“Jason is young and he is exuberant and he is a confident, young boy,” said Stubbs. “I remember being a young footballer too. You treat everyone on their own merits. I have to say I was no angel when I was younger but you learn. That is all we want Jason to do – to learn. Don’t keep making mistakes, learn from it.”
But while reports suggested that the 19-year-old had been dropped to the bench for last Saturday’s match against Dumbarton as a consequence of the incident, his manager undermined that suggestion.
“Jason is young. I have to say I was no angel when I was younger but you learn”Alan Stubbs
“Hopefully that story has been put to bed now. I am not going to give credence to the story. But if it was punishment Jason would not have been involved at all. I have options now.”
The player, who has netted 12 times this season and is the team’s second top scorer in all competitions and the Championship’s joint top scorer, had been a regular starter but his demotion to the bench had more to do with Dominque Malonga’s return from the Africa Cup of Nations and the improving fitness and form of recent arrival Franck Dja Djedje, according to his manager, who now has choices to make all throughout the team.
“Jason is scoring goals which he bases a lot of his play on. I look at the bigger picture and look at his all round play as the most important thing.
“When you step up to the next level in football you have to be more polished in every aspect of your game. Scoring goals is a commodity that every manager will look for but it is not purely about that. It’s about scoring goals, the runs you make, the link-up play and what you do for the team. The more you can be a more accomplished allround striker then the higher you are going to go.
“He needs to keep progressing and learning but competition for places is very healthy at this moment in time. It will be up to me what strikers I go with from game to game.
“I don’t want any passengers, everyone in the group can easily come and play in the first XI. We’ve got real quality options and it’s fantastic from my point of view. I really think I’ve improved the quality of the group with some good signings. They’re the ones that deserve the credit. I’ve got really good options all over the pitch which is great from my point of view. Now the strength and depth of the squad gives me nice dilemmas. I can rotate the squad when I need to to keep the lads fresh. One the other hand I’m thinking, do I change a winning team? It’s the nice little teasers to have.”
But what he doesn’t want is off-field matters detracting from the team’s efforts on the park and the unbeaten run they are on.
“We expect our players to behave in the right way. It is tough to be a young footballer but what I will say, and this is not specifically related to Jason, is that everybody has a responsibility.
“You have to behave within that responsibility as you are in the spotlight all the time. There is always someone who would like to make a story even if there is no story. Social media has made it harder for players.
“They are in the public eye and footballers have. in a way, 24-hour CCTV on them and that is the world that we live in now. Given that technology is the way it is then they have a greater responsibility.
“Young footballers have a responsibility to behave as they are paid well. They have choices in life and they cannot have it both ways.”
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