Aiden McGeady 'still hungry' as Hibs winger speaks on Sunderland struggles and Lee Johnson's managerial style

Football, they say, is a funny old game; none more so than for Aiden McGeady, who might not have signed for Hibs had he not suffered an injury-hit campaign with Sunderland last year.

The veteran winger teamed up once again with his former Black Cats boss Lee Johnson at Easter Road but unfortunately for the 36-year-old, an injury suffered in the final pre-season friendly against Norwich City signalled a lengthy return to the sidelines.

Not that another spell out has diminished McGeady’s desire to be out there playing.

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"If I'd played all last season at Sunderland, chances are I would still be there, but I didn’t, and that's just the way things have panned out,” he said.

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"I know I've got another couple of years left in me if I look after myself so it's more about me, I still enjoy playing and I feel I've still got a lot to give."

Hibs fans only saw flashes of the former Celtic and Everton winger in July, but there is a chance he could return to action before the 2022 World Cup, with Johnson giving a ‘ten weeks’ timeline on the ligament injury – a recurrence of the issue that dogged him at Sunderland.

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McGeady has undertaken match analysis duties for televised Hibs games but, he says, he is exploring a lot of different things as he makes tentative plans for once he has hung up his boots.

"I've done a couple of badges and I'm about a year through the UCFB course in Sports Directorship in Manchester. It's quite heavy-going because I left school at 16 and haven't done any essays since then, but I have to do 3,000-word reports with Harvard-style referencing and stuff.

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Aiden McGeady is still hungry to play football

"I don't want to sound disrespectful but I could retire today if I wanted to, and be fine financially, but I still have that hunger to play football and know I can still perform at this level.

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"I'm just doing things while still playing; I did quite a lot last season when I was injured to see what I fancied doing once I've finished.

"I probably would like to stay in football but I want to put it to the back of my mind because as soon as you start talking about coaching and things like that then it's like you're phasing yourself out, and I don't want to think of it that way.

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"There's the media as well; I did a bit more when I was injured and moving back up to Scotland probably opens up a lot more doors for TV work, but it's all about trying a bit of everything and seeing what I like doing and what I enjoy."

McGeady with former Rangers and Kilmarnock striker turned pundit Kris Boyd in the Sky Sports Studio during match coverage
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McGeady has no regrets about leaving the Stadium of Light and speaking in the summer at Hibs’ pre-season training camp in Portugal, discussed his last few months in the north-east.

"There were no discussions about staying and I couldn't really see myself staying with the way Sunderland is being run at the minute anyway.

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"They are very much focused on bringing in young players and developing them with high-asset value and I don't really tick that box.

"Alex Neil never got a chance to play me. Or rather, he did, but his team was settled and doing well. He was quite structured in the way he wanted to play, and his starting XI, and the team that had been successful for him before I was fit.

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McGeady training during July. Lee Johnson has put a ten-week timeline on the winger's spell on the sidelines

"I didn't really get the chance to play so it was a bit frustrating the way it finished, but I was part of the play-off final and we got promoted and it was always the aim to get back up."

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He has a far stronger relationship with Johnson, who unexpectedly brought him back from the cold at Sunderland.

"I'd been cast off into the 23s at Sunderland under Phil Parkinson, and hadn't played for a year. I'd gone on loan to Charlton but stayed, Lee got the job on the Friday night and phoned me saying, 'Listen, I'm getting the job, do you want to start tomorrow against Wigan?'

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"I hadn't played a game in four or five months so I wasn't going to turn it down. From then on I played every game, we got to know each other.

"We clash at times the same way every manager and player will every now and then but he doesn't mind you having your own opinion and expressing it, and debating and having a discussion about things.

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It was Shaun Maloney who got the ball rolling on McGeady coming to Hibs and luckily for the well-travelled wideman, Johnson’s appointment ensured the move remained live.

McGeady endured a frustrating final season at Sunderland
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"I've got a lot of loyalty to him because he brought me straight back in at Sunderland and I performed well under him, so when he got the Hibs job – I never spoke to him beforehand, but I was hoping it would happen and eventually it did.

"My intention was always to come back to Scotland at this stage in my career and it all fitted in nicely."

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When you look at the managers McGeady has played under – Neil Lennon, Tony Mowbray, Martin O’Neill, and Gordon Strachan at Celtic and in O’Neill’s case, the Republic of Ireland too; Brian Kerr, Steve Staunton, Giovanni Trapattoni, Unai Emery and Valery Karpin at Spartak Moscow; Roberto Martinez at Everton; Carlos Carvalhal at Sheffield Wednesday; Simon Grayson at Preston and Sunderland; Chris Coleman, Phil Parkinson, and Jack Ross at Sunderland – how does Johnson compare to that collective?

“He’s totally different. Strachan and O’Neill are more man-managers than tactics and formations. But younger managers like Lee, Alex Neil, Martinez and probably Shaun Maloney… a lot of it is about tactics with them and that seems to be the way football is going now.

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“Lee is big on analysis, very big on set-pieces and formations and shape – he’s very much the modern manager."

McGeady with Republic of Ireland boss - and his former manager at Celtic - Martin O'Neill during Euro 2016

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