ALAN Stubbs has revealed that he agreed to become Hibernian manager against the advice of someone he described as “very, very famous” – and who has refused to change his opinion that the post was one to avoid.
Stubbs declined to name the man in question, but mentioned his advice as an indication of the negative perception of Hibs within football at the time he took over. Yet despite that advice, and the club’s relegation to the Championship after a series of failed managerial appointments, the former Celtic defender said he was convinced from his first meeting with chief executive Leeann Dempster that it was the right job, and the right club, for him.
“I didn’t have to go into management at that moment,” Stubbs said of his appointment during the summer. “Actually, I’m not going to name someone, who is a very, very, very famous guy, who rang me and left a message. You won’t get the name out of me, I’ll tell you that. And he just said to me ‘What are you doing?’ about me taking the job. He was talking about coming here, rather than going into management in general.
“I’ve got my own opinion, a very strong opinion, and just because someone might have said something about not doing it would not have stopped me. At the end of the day, I’ve got a very strong frame of mind and I make my own decisions – and sometimes I like proving people wrong as well.
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“I wouldn’t have taken it if it didn’t feel like the right decision, I can honestly say that. From the day I met Leeann it felt right. I felt really comfortable with what they had in store for the club.
“Probably even from Day One to now, I’ve been happy. In this job it’s always easier when you’re winning, but from the day I’ve come in I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.
“I’m very clear in what I want to do. We’re not the finished article, by any means, and it is a work in progress. But, at this moment in time, the team’s in a good place and we find ourselves bearing the fruits of the hard work we’ve done over the last few months.”
Stubbs added that he had spoken to his famous advisor since, and that he had not changed his mind – “He’s quite a stubborn person”. But he insisted that at no time had he been tempted to think his acquaintance was correct, explaining that reliance on his staff had prevented him from feeling too isolated when results were not going well.
“I think football, especially management, is such a roller-coaster. When it’s good it’s fantastic and when it’s bad you seem to be in a lonely place. Everyone says that about management and sometimes when you don’t get results you beat yourself up and you don’t want to listen to anyone.
“I’m a bit different. I want to listen to my staff and I want them to tell me the truth and be honest with me. And if it means them being frank then be frank, because I’m still learning and I’ll always be learning until the last day of my management career.”
Stubbs has been pleased by the signings he made during the last transfer window and is confident he will be given the chance to strengthen his squad again next month. One position he could recruit in sooner rather than later is goalkeeper, but he explained that former Gothenburg player Marcus Sandberg, who is currently training at East Mains, should not be seen as a potential replacement for Mark Oxley, whose loan from Hull City he hopes to extend until the end of the season.
“He’s come in for a few days and we’re having a look,” Stubbs said of Sandberg. “It’s nothing to do with Mark’s situation whatsoever. We’re looking to bring in another ’keeper that can give Mark a fight for the No 1 place.
“Mark’s my No 1: it’s as simple as that. But we do need another ’keeper who has got experience, just in case anything happens with Mark.
“We’re actively speaking with Hull and we’re very hopeful that something can be done. Mark’s really happy and he wants to extend his stay, which is probably going to be the main factor in all of this.”
Stubbs will discuss Oxley’s future with Hull boss Steve Bruce, and he will also speak to Everton manager Roberto Martinez about extending Mark Kennedy’s loan period beyond the end of January. He also expects some comings and goings next month, but insisted his most influential players such as key midfielder Scott Allan would be going nowhere.
“There will be, I think, movement. There may be one or two that leave and there may be a few that come in. But I can guarantee that none of my better ones will be going.
“When you’re playing well there’s always interest. I want there to be interest, because it means they’re doing something well.
“I’d want a lot of clubs to be interested in my players, because that means I’ve got good players. It doesn’t bother me whatsoever. None of my better players will be leaving.”
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