Lee Johnson wins race to be next Hibs manager with former Hearts team-mate set to join him as number two

Hibs are set to announce Lee Johnson as their new manager on Thursday, after the former Sunderland boss managed to fend off competition from Jon Dahl Tomasson to win the backing of the club’s board.

The Englishman, who has also managed Bristol City, Barnsley and Oldham impressed throughout the interview process and is viewed as less of a gamble than the Dane, who had captured the imagination of a vocal section of the Leith fanbase.

After sacking two managers in one season and finishing eighth in the Premiership, owner Ron Gordon and the club hierarchy know they need some stability and someone who can take the club back into Europe and deliver silverware.

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It was felt that Johnson, who has played in Scotland, for Hearts and Kilmarnock, has the credentials to deliver on that and, looking for someone to commit to a long-term project, he convinced the board he is the better, and less risky, prospect. They were also taken by the style of football preferred by the 40 year-old, and his winning mentality.

And, while Tomasson would, undoubtedly, have been the more popular choice with supporters, key factors counted against him. While finance was one, with the former Malmo coaches demands far greater than other candidates, recruitment is understood to have been the greater issue.

A key requirement throughout the latest managerial search was a good understanding of Scottish football and, while it was not a complete deal breaker, it was felt that Johnson and his long-term assistant, former Scotland internationalist Jamie McAllister, an ex-team mate from his brief spell at Hearts, had a distinct advantage in that department.

Having spent their careers in Scotland and England, they have a strong knowledge of the market and the demands. Conversely, despite previously masterminding victory over Europa League finalists, Rangers, Tomasson’s foreign expertise was considered too much of a gamble at a time when new signings will have to settle in quickly as the new man is charged with delivering short-term gains while also building a more solid foundation from which to launch hopes of future success.

With the new manager expected to take the lead on recruitment going forward, Johnson was more enthused by the prospect, happy to work with current Easter Road staff to pursue targets and get deals over the line.

Hibs are set to appoint former Sunderland boss Lee Johnson as their new manager. (Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images)

Tomasson, who came across as being less committed to the long-term nature of the project outlined by the board, is said to have made it clear that he is less interested in dirtying his hands with transfer business and wanted a sporting director brought onto the wage bill to deal with those matters. With finite finance that would have eaten into the player budget, limiting the opportunities to improve the squad.

And, although the fans made it clear that the Champions League winner was their first choice, the club are confident that it will not take Johnson long to win them over. Predicting a busy summer of transfer business designed to take them into the 2022/23 campaign on a stronger footing, they were impressed by the Englishman’s desire to prove himself.

Given the lead on recruitment, one of Johnson’s first tasks as the new Hibs boss will be to rubber stamp the deal to bring in David Marshall as the club’s first choice goalkeeper.

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