Hibs hero backed to land next manager's job - 'that’s what he should look like'

Hibs are searching for Montgomery successor after axe fell on Tuesday

Paul Hanlon believes David Gray embodies “what a Hibernian manager should look like” as he endorsed the 2016 Scottish Cup final goal hero as a potential successor to the sacked Nick Montgomery.

The 36-year-old coach was placed in interim charge of the Easter Road side for the last two games of this season following the decision to part ways with Montgomery in the wake of a 4-0 home defeat by Aberdeen that saw Hibs slip to ninth in the cinch Premiership. Remarkably, Gray is now in his fourth spell as caretaker boss in less than two and a half years after previously performing the role following the departures of Jack Ross, Shaun Maloney and Lee Johnson.

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Gray is idolised by supporters for scoring the winning goal in the 2016 Scottish Cup final against Rangers, and has been a valued member of the club’s backroom staff since hanging up his boots three years ago. Hanlon, who is about to bring the curtain down on his own long Hibs career at the end of this season, feels his former team-mate has all the attributes to lead the Hibees forward on a permanent basis.

David Gray and Paul Hanlon were team-mates at Hibs.David Gray and Paul Hanlon were team-mates at Hibs.
David Gray and Paul Hanlon were team-mates at Hibs.

“This is his fourth stint as the interim manager so he’s had a real good schooling already,” said Hanlon. “The way he is as a person, I think his characteristics fit that of a successful manager or someone who could be a successful manager. In terms of what he’s done at this club and the way the fans love him, I think he’s got every potential to be a top, top manager.”

Asked if he felt Gray was currently ready to become manager of Hibs, Hanlon said: “It’s hard to tell, he’s not had a lot of games under his belt. All I can tell is the way I see him day to day, the way he takes training, the decisions he’s made in the past, the way he conducts himself, and I think that’s what a Hibs manager should look like.”

Gray – as he has done in each of his previous stints in charge – refused to indulge in talk about his own prospects of taking the reins on a permanent basis. “That’s not a question for me,” he said, speaking at a media briefing on Tuesday afternoon. “I’ve literally found out about the manager leaving four hours ago, and I’ve been put in this movie again – unfortunately. I’m so disappointed to be in this situation. And it’s not the right time at all to talk about anything else.”

Hibs are about to embrace minority investment from billionaire Bill Foley’s Black Knight group, a situation that could have an influence on which way they turn when appointing Montgomery’s successor. Gray is adamant the Hibs job remains an attractive proposition despite the fact they have now sacked four managers in less than two and a half years. “It’s a fantastic job for any manager who has the desire to manage at the top level in Scotland,” he said. “It has a fantastic fan base, a great infrastructure – and everybody at the club is desperate to make it successful.”

Reflecting on the sacking of Montgomery, who arrived from Central Coast Mariners eight months ago, Gray said: “It’s never nice when anyone loses their job. You form a bond with these people and it’s a horrible position to be in. Being the manager of the football club, I know that means he carries the responsibility, but as a collective we’ve not been good enough. I don’t think it’s been through a lack of effort or people making decisions for the wrong reasons. But the reality is we’ve underachieved. Everyone needs to be better.”



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