Graeme Mathie says it won’t just be Hibs boss Jack Ross who cops flak

“We Are All Hibs” was written across the board behind Jack Ross when he was unveiled at Easter Road on Monday.
Hibernian sporting director Graeme Mathie, right, welcomes new manager Jack Ross to the club. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNSHibernian sporting director Graeme Mathie, right, welcomes new manager Jack Ross to the club. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS
Hibernian sporting director Graeme Mathie, right, welcomes new manager Jack Ross to the club. Picture: Craig Williamson/SNS

The club’s current promotional slogan was hard to miss. New sporting director Graeme Mathie has now outlined how this ethos applies behind the scenes. Ross will have the final say on all on-field matters, including formation and who he wants to add in terms of players.

But Mathie is confident the structure is already in place to fully utilise the new head coach’s talents. Hibs have adopted a very collaborative outlook. Ross has been permitted to bring assistant John Potter with him from Sunderland. But otherwise, the whole point in having a backroom structure that includes a full-time academy analyst and strength and conditioning staff is to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum when a head coach departs and another one arrives, as has recently happened.

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“Jack has the final say on who he signs, the team he picks, the formation he plays,” said Mathie, who was appointed as sporting director last month following George Craig’s decision to step down as Head of Football Operations.

“None of that is dictated by anyone other than him. But if he wants to come and ask anyone else’s opinion or work with the other coaches, that’s his prerogative. No-one will make him. That’s all his domain and that’s important.

“We’ve all got to be on the edge of things, in a position we possibly can do to help achieve performance and results,” added Mathie.

“It’s not just down to one individual, the head coach or his assistant and everybody else is safe (from criticism) and secure because they’re part of the club.

“We can’t operate like that, because that’s not how you get the best out of a high-performance environment. There will be little changes made but I do credit George [Craig] for the work he’s done. It’s great for me to be able to take over when these things are in place. Trying to find little bits of added benefit and changing the mindset a wee bit to say: ‘actually, we’re not all safe here’. It shouldn’t be a secure environment, the training centre. It should be a high-performance environment.”

“One thing I’m trying to get across to people now is that’s the last two head coaches who have come in and brought only one individual with them. What I want to make sure now is that everybody understands that we’re all culpable for performance on the pitch.”

Mathie was only in his new post a few weeks before he was helping identify candidates to succeed Paul Heckingbottom. He has not been shaken by the criticism he feels all at Hibs, not just Heckingbottom, should shoulder after a poor start to the season. He was head of recruitment when many of the under performing players were brought in after all.

“You don’t operate in performance sport if you want to be immune to criticism,” he added. “We criticise ourselves at times because we want to reflect on things. I’ve done a big piece of work now to look at the recruitment we’ve done over the last five-and-a-half years. We’ve looked at the signings that have turned out positively and maybe those that haven’t and see if we can identify key factors to allow us to be better next time.

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“The unfortunate thing in this game is that you get an appraisal sometimes three times a week,” he added. “If a performance is positive and a result is positive, life’s good, recruitment’s great, the coaching’s brilliant. If it goes the other way, it’s the opposite. That’s the game we’re in. I’ve been in it long enough to know you don’t pay your mortgage working in football. You’re mad to do that. That’s just what it is. You’re judged every week.”