Alan Stubbs won’t let anything stand in the way of Hibernian being promoted, not even if an English Premier League club were to come calling.
League One side Bolton Wanderers, relegated last month from the Championship, are the latest club to be linked with the Hibs manager.
Stubbs stressed that not even his own ambitions can distract him from a potentially historic two-week period for Hibs, who play Falkirk tonight in the first leg of their Premiership play-off semi-final.
“I played at Bolton for over seven years and it’s a good club,” Stubbs said. “I’ve had speculation already this season. It’s the crazy world we live in. I can’t stop it. It’s the same speculation that said I was under pressure a couple of weeks ago. That’s football.
“It would take more than that to distract me, when you’ve still got the opportunity to achieve what you’ve wanted to achieve all season – even if I was being linked with a Premier League job, it wouldn’t distract me whatsoever.”
But Stubbs, who could lead Hibs to the Scottish Cup for the first time since 1902 as well as secure a return to the top flight in the next fortnight, could not guarantee staying at Easter Road next season even if basking in such double glory.
Ray McKinnon, expected to be appointed Dundee United manager this week, last week claimed he would definitely remain at Raith Rovers if they were promoted to the Premiership. However, their play-off defeat by Hibs opened the way for United to make an approach, which they did on Saturday evening.
“Did you believe Ray?” smiled Stubbs. “I’ve got a year left on my contract. You know what football’s like. I’m not even looking at next week just now. We literally are taking it from day to day right now.”
The Hibs manager is reaching the climax of a season he hopes will end with promotion and Scottish Cup success. Hibs play Rangers at Hampden on 21 May, a date they hope will be bookended by two legs of a Premiership play-off final with Kilmarnock.
Unhelpful though it may be, it is only natural that Stubbs’ continued good work at Easter Road will attract the attention of other clubs. Bolton Wanderers, now in League One, are just the latest credited with interest in the 44 year-old, whose family have remained in England during his two-year stay in Edinburgh.
Bolton are looking for a successor to former Celtic manager Neil Lennon, who left in March after a difficult 17 months in charge.
The club were relegated from the Championship last month amid crippling financial problems. They have since been taken over by the Sports Shield consortium, headed by Dean Holdsworth, a former striker at the club.
Although Holdsworth never played with Stubbs at Bolton he is reported to be an admirer of the Hibs manager, who stressed that his attention was fully on tonight’s play-off semi-final first-leg clash with Falkirk.
Stubbs would expect to be linked with other jobs if Hibs do what they want to do in the last month of the season. But he stressed they haven’t done anything yet.
“All we’ve done is give ourselves an opportunity and I’d much rather be in the position that we’ve achieved something in two weeks’ time,” he said. “We have made strides in my time at the club. I don’t think there’s any denying that, from when I walked in to where we are now. I’d like to achieve something with the team. They’ve got a good opportunity to do it.”