ALTHOUGH the focus has been on one Hibs player’s desire to escape his contract and leave the club, captain David Gray says the extended deal signed by Alan Stubbs this week is a major boost when it comes to retaining the services of many others in the squad.
The full-back said that the manager’s decision to commit to the club for the next two years was a welcome shaft of positivity at a time when the Scott Allan transfer saga continues to distract and following on from the disappointment of last weekend’s 6-2 thrashing by Rangers in the Petrofac Training Cup.
“I think you try to just focus on the job in hand and the biggest thing was the disappointment of Saturday and the manner of the defeat,” said Gray. “As a football player you are just desperate to put that right and the only way to do that is to go out and try to play well [against Montrose] on Saturday. That has been our main focus this week, to make sure that we train hard and are ready for Saturday and the added bonus of the staff signing new deals has helped. It has come at the right time.
“It’s a real positive statement and with the stance they have taken with Scotty, it shows a real sign of our ambitions for the season and it has made us really determined to do well this year.
“Our objective is to win the league and get promoted, that’s it, there’s no other thought in our mind. The two statements only strengthen the cause.”
In Stubbs, Gray believes the Championship challengers have a coach capable of improving individuals and getting the best from his players.
“I think the signs are there,” he added. “Look at where we were at the start of last season to where we are now, the way we play football, what the manager is trying to achieve and the players he has managed to keep. We all believe we are part of something and it’s a really exciting time for the football club.”
Gray enjoyed six years at Manchester United but a succession of loan deals ended in a move to Preston North End. Spells at Stevenage and Burton Albion followed but it is under Stubbs, at Hibs, that the local lad feels he has been able to reignite his career.
“On a personal level, he has been great for me,” said Gray. “I was lucky to be his first signing and he took a chance on me, bringing me back up the road, and he has played a big part in me coming back up and doing so well. I’m delighted that he has extended his contract and that has been a driving force in a lot of the players from last season wanting to stay, because of the environment that the manager has created. It’s a real enjoyable place to come into work each day.
“He is very hands on and is on the training ground every day working with us and trying to get his point across and I think it is slowly starting to take shape, the way he wants us to play football and the players he has brought in. I think some of the players maybe did have a point to prove and me, coming back up the road, I was in that situation. I got lost a little bit in the game and was trying to kick start my career and without him that wouldn’t have been possible. So I’m very grateful for that and I’m sure at least three or four other players in that dressing room would feel the same.”
This afternoon, Stubbs’ players have to repay some of the faith he has shown in them, with a constructive response to last weekend’s shaming. They host Montrose in the first round of the League Cup and would love a positive performance and result to bolster belief as they embark on the Championship campaign next week.
With Hibs adamant that Allan will not be going to Rangers, Stubbs may need to lift his spirits and help him concentrate his mind on the task in hand but Gray says the chances are Allan will knuckle down all by himself.
“Scott is a professional, so it is in his best interests to work as hard as he can and the timing may not be right for Scott to move on but it is what it is and he has worked hard and that’s all any of us can do. We have to concentrate on the collective, it’s not about individuals, and if anything it is making us thrive more and making us more determined to be successful this year.”