How Hibs gladly checked out early on deadline day - while still monitoring Allan Campbell - in a hugely successful transfer window

While others were still scurrying around like contestants on Supermarket Sweep, there was a sense of calm emanating from Easter Road last night.
Hibernian manager Jack Ross has had a positive transfer window. Photo by Mark Scates / SNS GroupHibernian manager Jack Ross has had a positive transfer window. Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group
Hibernian manager Jack Ross has had a positive transfer window. Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group

The formalisation of the Kyle Magennis deal, which had been all-but rubber-stamped on Friday night, signalled the end of business and saw Hibs checking out early.

They watched in case any late bargains were unexpectedly moved to the clearance shelves, but Motherwell held their nerve and, with a prohibitive price tag on midfield asset Alan Campbell, made sure that neither the Leith side nor fellow Premiership suitors Aberdeen were willing or able to lure him away.

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But there was contentment in the Hibs ranks at the business they did early enough to allow the majority to contribute from the start of the campaign and a belief that the subsequent additions should see them maintain a level of competitiveness at the top end of the league table, and allow them to challenge for silverware in the various cup competitions this term.

Picking up the gems

There should also be a degree of smugness that among their summer haul, they have landed a couple of players, both young, gifted and hungry, with the potential to reap significant profit when they, as the capital club hope, outgrow them, the way the likes of John McGinn has in the recent past.

Every signing is a gamble, more so when a fee is paid, but having agreed six figure sums for both Kevin Nisbet and Kyle Magennis, there is the strong belief they will recoup that outlay and more.

Having banged in goals galore in the second tier, there were always question marks over the former’s ability to translate that clinical prowess to the higher echelons of the Scottish game. But, boasting six goals in eight appearances, he has also weighed in with two assists and it is his work rate and link-up play, allied to his nose for goals, that has already seen him touted for a Scotland call up.

If he continues to deliver and improve, that elevation should not be too far away and it is that ability to develop, to move their game on an upward trajectory that defines the majority of manager Jack Ross’s signings and separates the majority of players he chose to hold onto or bring in, from those the club chose to move on.

That point was reiterated when the Hibs gaffer spoke about Magennis.

“If there is a profile of the kind of player we are looking to bring to the club to add to the group then Kyle fits it.

“He is young, hungry, can play in a number of positions and has plenty room for improvement. Importantly, he is someone who wants to improve.”

Improving the mindset

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In the past year there had been worrying signs that the vulnerable mindset which had been associated with the club at times in the past may be sneaking back in. There was obvious anxiety when trying to see out games, in the stands and on the pitch, and points lost as a consequence.

Wanting a bit more steel, Ross also wanted leaders and players who have that potent mix of humility but inner belief.

“On top of that, [Kyle’s] someone who has shown leadership qualities from an early age. You can never have too many of those types.”

In Magennis and Nisbet he has got that. But that determination to fight for every ball, regardless whether the team is winning 3-0 or losing 4-0, and to put the team first is even more evident in Alex Gogic, who is one of their most astute acquisitions.

Equilibrium has been found

Bringing balance to the midfield, he is the dam that prevents the defence being flooded, and the most obvious chink in the armour last season.

An improved Joe Newell is showing himself to be a more dynamic foil in the middle of the park but in Magennis they have a player who can cover for either, with a willingness to track back and the aptitude to also inject some pace into play by moving the ball on. Crucially, they are all good footballers, with vision and ability to pick out a pass to the flanks or through for Nisbet or Christian Doidge.

Hibs already had leaders in their ranks but many are reaching the end of their careers, and, while useful around the training ground, are likely to spend more time on the bench than in the starting line up if the first tranche of fixtures is anything to judge by.

Wide boys

As well as striking the right balance between defence and attack, experience and new blood, guile and graft, this window also allows them to make better use of the flanks, where Martin Boyle pace has been an asset for a while but competition, in a quest for consistency, is something the club have addressed.

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Drey Wright was a decent signing, who may yet blossom into something more, but Jamie Murphy is a player who has delivered at this level already.

In a squad they have described as lean, they have helped fund their new arrivals by moving out bit part players but by adding the likes of Stephen McGinn and Dillon Barnes, they have ensured there is cover in most positions.

Improving youngsters

Fans may have looked for more of that up front, where the layer beneath Nisbet and Doidge is raw. But Ross and his assistant John Potter have shown an ability to work with young charges and improve them, whittling out those they feel are not as receptive to that advice as they should be.

Getting the best out of players is a challenge they thrive on, which is why players with potential are viewed as the best options in a market that is competitive and a drain on very tight resources.

They have spent money in this window and while that is a short-term hit, the overriding feeling at Hibs is that it is a short-term investment for middle and long-term reward.



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