HENRI Anier’s loan signing was one of the last pieces of business conducted by Hibs before the closure of the transfer window and the Estonian striker will have been relieved to then see it shut behind him without the loss of any key personnel.
When he joined Dundee United at the start of the year, the 24-year-old wasn’t so fortunate, his time at Tannadice coinciding with a tough time for the club on and off the park thanks to the departures of Gary Mackay-Steven and Stuart Armstrong to Celtic. The team struggled to adapt to life without the talismanic influences and the fans reacted badly to the consequent loss in form and the financial ramifications of their exit. It made it difficult for Anier, who had returned to Scotland hoping to kickstart his career.
An important contributor to Motherwell’s second-place finish in the top flight in 2013/14, Anier’s subsequent move to German side Erzgebirge DNU did not go as well as he had planned, leaving him desperate for regular first-team football and the chance to rebuild in a familiar domain. His first three appearances on Tayside overlapped with Armstrong and Mackay-Steven’s time there and he was able to notch up a draw and two wins, including the League Cup semi-final victory over Aberdeen. But after they left he enjoyed just one more victory and scored just one goal. “I didn’t know they were going to go,” explained Anier. “They went on the last day of the window. That changed everything. It wasn’t an easy time for everyone. They did really well the first half of the season and then suddenly everything changed.
“It wasn’t an easy time for me at United, it wasn’t an easy time for the club. They sold their two flair players and then we had to adapt to a new playing style. These things happen but it wasn’t an easy period. I worked hard every day and I was positive.
“I don’t regret going there. I had come from Germany where things also didn’t work out the way I would have wanted. So I was looking forward to coming back to Scotland to get things going. That didn’t happen there, but hopefully it will happen here. I am confident and looking forward to the rest of the season.”
The worst aspect of the most recent transfer window was the uncertainty. He was tracked by a couple of clubs, including one he describes as “a big club in Poland”. When that interest fell through he was consoled to learn that Hibs were also interested.
“I had a few different options, some in the top division. But when Hibs came up I didn’t need to think too long about it. I made my decision quickly and thankfully it all happened before the deadline. I just think this is a big club and I am delighted to be here. I really can’t wait to get it going and start enjoying my football again. I had a good chat with the manager and I think his playing style suits me.”
Manager Alan Stubbs does have a raft of striking options as he heads into the remainder of the campaign, starting against Alloa Athletic today, but Anier feels there is still a place for him in the starting line up. “I think my strengths are to get in behind defences,” he said. “I am quick and strong. I like to move around. Each striker we have at the club is a bit different. That’s a good thing for the gaffer and it’s good for us to have that competition. That makes the quality of training higher and that can only be a good thing. We have a lot of games in front of us so we just need to show ourselves in training and it will be the gaffer’s decision who plays.”
Anier says that the club’s current Championship status was not an issue, not when the target is clearly promotion and he considers the standard a minor step down from the top league.
“I wasn’t worried about moving to the Championship, Hibs is a big club. I’m delighted to be here and I think there is only a small difference between the Premiership and the Championship. All I was thinking was I need to get playing, I need to get back where I can be.”