New Hibs boss Lee Johnson: Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov wanted to put my tongue in a vice

New Hibs boss Lee Johnson has arrived at Easter Road looking for stability and hoping for the full backing of owner Ron Gordon

Lee Johnson is unveilled as the new Hibs manager by owner Ron Gordon, right, and CEO Ben Kensell.
Lee Johnson is unveilled as the new Hibs manager by owner Ron Gordon, right, and CEO Ben Kensell.

That would mark a significant shift from his short-lived experience the last time he was employed by a capital club, when Hearts former owner Vladimir Romanov created “carnage” in Gorgie.

Johnson’s Tynecastle stint lasted just six months, but the 40 year-old says it was dogged with enough mayhem to merit its own chapter in any future memoir.

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“It was crazy. It is definitely a chapter in my book, let me tell you!” said Johnson. “It was an interesting time and it was difficult. I had moved up with my wife and we’d moved from a very secure friend base on a social level and were then dropped into complete carnage, if I’m honest with you.

“But it was part of my experience and football is wonderful for that. You get to meet great people and you get to experience big games, big atmospheres and I did that. So, do I regret it? No. Was it a part of what I am today? Absolutely. But, at the same time, there are some really good stories and one day I will be able to tell them.”

Among 11 players brought into the Gorgie club in January 2006, as one of manager Graham Rix’s picks, Johnson says his face never fit with the Lithuanian-based owner and, although he was signed on a two-and-a-half-year deal, his days were numbered as soon as there was a managerial switch.

But he is happy to be back in the city, where he knows he will encounter Hearts fans as well as Hibs.

“I feel at home here,” Johnston continued. “I feel like I understand Scots banter and when it’s not banter and it’s serious and it can get pretty lively then as well.”

And, there was seriously no love lost between Johnson and his former employer.

“Absolutely. I think the last time Romanov commented on me he said he wanted to put my tongue in a vice!”

Promised financial and practical backing at Hibs, while he will have to justify signing targets and answer for his team selections, Johnson will have control of the football department as he tries to close the gap on Hearts.

“That’s the first challenge, to make sure that we are more competitive than we’ve been this year. There are a lot of markers we will have to set and achieve but we will only do that by being aligned from top to bottom and by being really aggressive and going for it.

“A squad needs emotional stability and it is hard being a footballer. It is intense and there’s the pressures and entourages, but the focus, and I don’t think this is the case at times, has to be impressing the manager and not twitter followers, instagram, girlfriends, potential next clubs and agents. That can all get in the way.

"To really work as any practitioner, whether that is manager, player, physio, you’ve got to have full focus and that is the bit I will try to encourage the players to do. I would say my leadership style is warm but demanding. I want the rapport with players but at the same time I expect certain standards to be delivered every day.”