Easter Road playmaker is repaying faith manager Stubbs has shown in him and living up to potential
A STAND-OUT performer in December as Hibs ripped Rangers to shreds in what his manager considers their most complete team performance of the season, Scott Allan wasn’t the only one to turn in a less rounded display when they saw out a 2-0 victory over the Ibrox side in Glasgow last month.
Much of what he tried that night failed to come off for him but it was still his vision and perfectly driven cross which cut Rangers open for the first goal.
“Yeah, he can produce that one moment,” says his manager Alan Stubbs, who hopes he can be the difference when the sides meet again this afternoon. “He didn’t have a great match. When he came off his first word to me was ‘sorry’ because he knew he could have had a bigger impact. But, for me, he hasn’t played well but he created the first goal and maybe we wouldn’t have had another player who would have seen that pass. That’s what he brings and that’s what I can put up with. Yes, he has other things we can all talk about but in football, and I had it with players at Everton, when you have an ability, people look at your weaknesses rather than your strengths and say ‘well, he can’t do this or that’.
“The most important thing is that you have to decide which side of the fence you sit on. Some people will find it frustrating, some people will find it’s the difference. I find it the difference and I’m prepared to allow him the flicks and the lapses in concentration where he does something sloppy because I know the next pass could be the one that wins the game.”
A player of undoubted quality when it comes to opening up opposition defences, without the weaknesses Allan would not be kicking about the Scottish second tier. A 23-year-old with immense potential, he is finally doing more to realise that. Some of that is down to greater maturity, according to his gaffer. A lot is down to the manager according to the player himself.
“For me, he is the most hands-on manager I have ever worked with, on a personal level. His man-management is superb. Every player is different but he tries his best to connect with everyone. The communication aspect of things is massive. When I was at West Brom, Roy Hodgson was a good communicator but we got a new manager in and that was different. Every manager has a different personality and a different way of doing things, and things have just really clicked with the gaffer here. I have a lot to thank him for,” says Allan.
“This year was all about playing week in, week out, and I think I have got better as a player and better as an all-round professional.”
His most sustained run of games prior to this term was 16 games, he says. At Hibs he has already more than doubled that and thanks to a more professional approach his diabetic body has withstood the extra demands.
“We know that he had lost his way,” says Stubbs. “That doesn’t mean that he is a bad person but he had just lost his way for one reason or another. He knew from day one that I was prepared to give him an opportunity but if he crossed the line he would be out. You have to understand that he is obviously diabetic so with that you have to be careful with his diet and his mood swings which sometimes can come into it. If he is feeling down on sugar then it can affect his performance.
“We have tried to work with him on that – we have had people from the university about controlling his diet and I think he has respected that. He deserves a lot of credit because he has lost quite a bit of body fat. That has its plusses and minuses. Beforehand he thought he had a good body. But since we’ve been working on him – he is now at the mirror and he knows he has got one!”
Treading the fine line between confidence boosting and ego control, the staff seem to have got it right. “I am using everything we have here to benefit myself,” reveals Allan. “I think sometimes it is about how quick you can learn from things that haven’t worked out in the past. It has taken me a few years, and some difficult times, but I am now using things to my advantage.”
But to progress he knows he needs to keep testing himself and concedes that means Premiership football next season.
“Definitely. I definitely want to get Hibs up and kick on again next year. For me it was just about getting a season under my belt, seeing how I was fitness and sharpness wise. I don’t think I’ve reached anywhere near my potential. You only see that as you go up through the levels and I think I can still go up a few levels. I’d like to do that with Hibs.”
Finishing second would give Hibs an easier route through the play-offs and enhance his chances of doing that. But just as important is maintaining the winning momentum that has seen them triumph in every one of their past seven games, in an unbeaten run that stretches back to last year. Allan has been an integral part of those victories and convinced his manager he was right to sign him, even when others were warning him off.
“It can be like that when you have someone like that,” says Stubbs. “You have to find a way or a position in the team for him and we have done that to a certain extent but only because we knew his value.”
And only because Stubbs knew Allan had the right men around him to compliment his strengths and compensate for his deficiencies.
“I think everyone in the team is as important as each other,” states Stubbs. “People have the perception that Scott Allan is the best player but in order for Scott Allan to be that player, Scott Robertson is as important as Scott Allan and Dylan McGeouch is as important and Lewis Stevenson is as important as the centre-backs. There’s no one individual in the team that is the star because if we don’t get the ball to Scott Allan then he can’t do what he does and if Scott Allan doesn’t create then we don’t score goals so I think they respect each other and know that they all have a very prominent role to play. There is no room for egos and I wouldn’t allow it. It’s a simple as that. We don’t achieve because of one player. We achieve because of the squad.”