New Hibs manager: Who are the early candidates? Alex Neil and Ben Kensell link, Derek McInnes keen, wildcard from across pond
Hibs are on the look-out for a new manager after the decided to sack Jack Ross in the wake of Wednesday’s 1-0 league defeat by Livingston.
The club decided to act swiftly as their form in the cinch Premiership deteriorates, having taken just four points from 27 in their past nine league matches and slipping to ninth in the league table.
Ross was due to lead the club at Hampden for the Premier Sports Cup final, but the Hibs hierarchy decided they could not afford the 45-year-old any more time after sections of the Hibs support called for the manager’s head.
Hibs have two league matches against St Mirren on Saturday and Dundee next Tuesday before the final, and the games come thick and fast during a hectic spell over the festive period.
Here are the early candidates to replace Ross at Easter Road:
Derek McInnes: The former Aberdeen manager has been out of management since leaving Aberdeen by mutual consent back in March. He has kept himself busy with media work and is still a hugely respected figure in the Scottish game. The 50-year-old is understood to be interested in getting back into the game and a job at one of the bigger clubs in Scotland would likely appeal.
Alex Neil: Ironically, Neil was on BBC Sportsound on Wednesday night as a guest to cover the Livingston v Hibs match. The 40-year-old left Preston North End in England’s Championship on March 21, following spells as Hamilton Accies and Norwich City manager. He guided the Canaries to the English Premier League following a play-off win over Middlesbrough, although the club suffered relegation the following year. With experience of managing in one of the most illustrious leagues in the world, Neil will no doubt be on the radar of Hibs chief executive Ben Kensell, who worked with Neil during his time at the Norfolk club.
Steve Kean: The former Blackburn Rovers manager arrived at Hibs only a few weeks ago as academy director. It was Ross that introduced him to Hibs’ hierarchy and the two were looking forward to working with each other. Kean’s most recent managerial role was in a caretaker capacity at Melbourne City and he may be asked to take the first team in the interim.
Jim Goodwin: The current St Mirren manager has won plaudits for the way he has turned the Paisley club around, so nearly making the Premiership top six last season, although a recent run of iffy form will do the 40-year-old Irishman no favours at all. St Mirren are due to face Hibs this weekend at the SMISA Stadium.
Alan Stubbs: A nostalgic suggestion, the 2016 Scottish Cup-winning coach is available, although many fans would rather the club look forward than going back. His former assistant, John Doolan, is another name from that era who has been spoken about before as a Hibs coach, but neither are likely to return to Easter Road any time soon.
Neil Lennon: Another former Hibs manager, Lennon is a free man having left Celtic last year. He guided Hibs out of the Championship and took the club into Europe. Left the club under a cloud in 2019 amidst reports of a dressing-room bust-up with striker Florian Kamberi and chief executive Leeann Dempster.
Kevin Thomson: A former midfielder at Hibs, he is doing a fine job in his first senior management role at Kelty Hearts. The Fife club are top of League Two and unbeaten on league duty, but the step up from the SPFL’s lowest rung to one of the biggest clubs in the country is almost certainly too big for Thomson, who some supporters may not accept due to his acrimonious transfer from Hibs to Rangers as a player.
Marvin Bartley: An iconic figure with the Hibs support, Bartley is currently assisting David Martindale at Livingston. He has done his coaching badges and has eyes on getting into management, having been touted for the Carlisle United job earlier this season.
A manager from England: Chief executive Kensell joined the club this summer. Previously, he worked at Charlton Athletic and Norwich City. He will have cultivated a plethora of contacts down south and will be aware of managers who could come north and do a good job for Hibs.
From across the pond: Peruvian owner Ron Gordon is based in the US and, with the help of his son Ian Gordon, is already looking to strengthen ties between Hibs and the American market. Forward Chris Mueller has already joined from Orlando City and Gordon may have an idea of a manager he can put in place from North America.