Aiden McGeady to Hibs: A signing that makes sense - but why it's a slight gamble
During talk of Aiden McGeady’s imminent arrival, the focus was on a particular number and it wasn’t the squad identification he will now wear on the back of his Hibs top.
At 36, the Republic of Ireland winger could not claim to be in the first bloom of his football career, having hit the peak, age-wise, several years ago. But while there are legitimate concerns for any player who is already past the point where the majority of his contemporaries have hung up their boots or made the switch into coaching, there is no obvious reason to fear that McGeady will not offer the Easter Road club value for money during his time in Leith.
Analysing the data, as plenty of people at Hibs have done, simply replicating last season’s figures when it comes to goals and assists would categorise him as one of the best in those areas in the Scottish top tier.
That natural ability is still there and while he may not have the turn of pace to dart beyond defenders every time, the guile and close control to still leave opponents spinning remains.
With previous knowledge of the Scottish game, thanks to six years with Celtic, he is not likely to be returning north with lazy expectations, or underestimating the pace and the physicality of the game up here. But he still believes he has it within him to shine. So do Hibs.
Manager Lee Johnson was the man who resurrected his Sunderland career and McGeady rewarded him with one of his best seasons in recent years, earning a spot in the League One team of 2020/21.
It was through that spell that the player and manager developed a bond. One of trust that they hope will help them deliver the best for each other.
While McGeady is known to be someone who can inspire or incite a dressing room, leading by example and demanding the best from those around him, reports over the years suggest that if things turn sour, he is not someone to accept things quietly and magnanimously.
So in that regard, the move is a slight gamble as Johnson tries to create a culture where players pull together, but he rates the player highly and if other managers see his personality as an issue at times, the Hibs boss is obviously unperturbed.
Two-footed with obvious guile and creativity, dribbling down the wing or cutting inside, he can still open up defences with a feint or flicker of the eye, and having delivered it all before, his reputation is another weapon.
A player who is always likely to have something to prove, it is that side to his personality that has driven him so hard. The thread of cussedness that sees him thrive on the role of pantomime baddie. In a pre-season friendly with Sunderland, against Hibs’ capital rivals Hearts last year, he took the taunts and the boos and, channelled that into a two-goal first half performance that sealed a 2-0 victory. When looking for someone who can unlock defences, apparently, memories like that don’t age.