What controversial Malky Mackay appointment means for Hibs - with no margin for error in next manager hunt and player transfers

A dramatic day at Easter Road takes further twist as ex-County boss comes in

Hibs assure us that they are done for the night. No more major announcements. Two is quite enough, first the sacking of Nick Montgomery as manager this morning followed by the tea-time announcement that Malky Mackay has been named as sporting director.

A lot can happen in eight hours. In between communications, David Gray and Paul Hanlon spoke to press ahead of Wednesday’s match against Motherwell. The mood was sombre. Gray is holding the fort as a caretaker boss for the fourth time in two-and-a-half years. It’s been a crash course in coaching for him. Hanlon plays his last game for Hibs at Easter Road before ending years of service to the club. He does not think the removal of Montgomery will bring a rethink on his future.

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Hibs are in the midst of a revolution. Performances and results under Montgomery simply were not good enough and losing 4-0 at home to Aberdeen last weekend was the final straw. Bill Foley’s Black Knight group are in the house with money and a full review has been put in place. A sporting director is seen as an integral part of the refit and the 52-year-old Mackay has landed the position.

Malky Mackay has been appointed Hibs' new sporting director.Malky Mackay has been appointed Hibs' new sporting director.
Malky Mackay has been appointed Hibs' new sporting director.

Mackay is not a new face in Scottish football circles. Far from it. He was manager of Ross County until mid-November, where he originally tasted success, taking the Dingwall club into the top six. Latterly he was fighting relegation, escaping the play-offs in a penalty shoot-out last season. This term the Staggies fared no better and he was sacked. Before that, he held a role as performance director with the Scottish Football Association between 2016 and 2020, and even took the national team for one match on a caretaker basis. He is an experienced man.

However, this appointment does not come without controversy. Take a look at social media this evening and there are plenty of Hibs fans who are repulsed by Mackay’s affiliation with the club. This stems from discriminatory text messages sent between him and sporting director Iain Moody while at Cardiff City from 2011 until 2013. The full charge sheet can be seen here. It is not pretty reading. Mackay has since apologised profusely and went on re-education courses. There are some Hibs fans who say they will not set foot in the stadium until his tenure is over.

Mackay cannot change that, and Hibs are fully aware of the divisiveness that they have caused. But there is clearly a belief that they have got the right man in terms of leading change within the football department. Mackay will have a say on who replaces Montgomery, alongside the rest of the board. Given his experience of the Scottish game, his presence permits Hibs to go for a head coach that isn’t from these shores. That’s not to say that Hibs will not consider candidates from Scotland but whoever comes in will need to work within the framework. Rightly or wrongly, this is the path Hibs have chosen under the stewardship of the Gordons and Ben Kensell. Mackay will also have a lead role in signing players, in tandem with Brian McDermott, who was director of football but will be given a more specific recruitment role.

Hibs need a lot of new faces and they are entering a huge few weeks as the search for a head coach begins. In Mackay, they have found one big piece of their jigsaw. Now it’s about completing the picture for next season. But after today’s events, there is no margin for error.



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