Secreted away in training complexes often far from the buzz of a town or city, some managers rarely encounter fans at all other than on matchdays.
Perhaps there’s little wonder then if they grow detached or even become dismissive of supporters, who they can allow to blur into a faceless mass every second Saturday.
It is clear why they prefer these out-of-town arrangements, where the coaching staff and players can get on with things amid lush grassy acres well away from prying eyes. But there’s a downside. After all, football clubs are meant to be the beating hearts of communities. Hibs are a team particularly closely aligned to the streets around their Easter Road – the Republic of Leith so they say.
Visiting the ground on Thursday to attend a Scotland women’s team press conference was a reminder how rarely there’s a need to visit now that such Hibs events are held at East Mains, the well-appointed training HQ down a winding country lane in East Lothian. Players zip in and out in expensive cars.
It’s no surprise if a sense of dislocation grows. It’s no surprise if a manager can forget himself, or at least forget who he is meant to represent. He’s not beholden to fans, of course. But he owes these people enough not to look down his nose at them.
Paul Heckingbottom, pictured, risked giving this perception when asked to explain the substitution of Scott Allan for Vykintas Slivka early in the second half of last Saturday’s 2-2 draw with St Johnstone.
Hibs were 1-0 up at the time. “I didn’t realise there was a law against taking him off,” was the manager’s arch response when asked about the substitution.
He’s since apologised to a degree. So accustomed to being in his own leafy fiefdom, perhaps the Yorkshireman needed a reminder before today’s trip to Motherwell that he can’t afford to appear to diss such a knowledgeable and loyal fanbase.