After the resignation of Pat Fenlon yesterday, Hibs find themselves in a situation where they are yet again looking for a new boss. There are a few names on the short list, and we’ll take a look at who is ideal for the job.
The Northern Irishman is a man who has experience of the Scottish Premiership when he took over the reigns from Mixu Paatelainen at Kilmarnock. Shiels team were renowned for playing Machiavellian free flowing football, but had an awful tendency to lose goals from this, with their leaky defence guilty too often of trying to play from the back when more direct approach was required. Shiels has been out of work since Killie chairman Michael Johnston inexplicably sacked him at the end of last season. Controversial and outspoken, he’s not what Hibs chairman Rod Petrie would typically go for, but is a serious candidate nonetheless.
The former Scotland boss is second favourite with the bookies at 7/1, but after his acrimonious departure from his last tenure at Easter Road, it’s unlikely he would be welcomed back with open arms. Following spells in charge of the national team and both Birmingham City and Aston Villa, his wage demands will almost certainly not be realistic to Petrie’s purse strings.
Calderwood left the SPL in 2009 having guided Aberdeen to a successful spells in the Premiership and what was the UEFA Cup, where they were eventually eliminated by Bayern Munich. Calderwood’s style is not appealing to the average football fan, but his results and accomplishments can not be ignored. In my opinion, he would do a job at Easter Road, with his direct approach and no nonsense defending. Most importantly, he wouldn’t have Jamie Langfield between the sticks – a man nicknamed “Clangers” by the Aberdeen faithful. Calderwood has many Dutch contacts, and most recently played a part in facilitating Michael Higdon’s move from Motherwell to NEC Nijmegen. A move could be realistic, but probably not the fans choice.
Nicholl was assistant manager to aforementioned Calderwood for 5 years at Aberdeen and Shiels for 2 years at Kilmarnock, before becoming Pat Fenlon’s number two at Easter Road. Nicholl’s only problem is lack of experience as head coach, with his only main job being one season at Cowdenbeath, where they were relegated from the now known as Scottish Championship. An outsider in the race, he may be placed in charge for the rest of the season as Hibs will surely be considered safe, bar a miraculous recovery at Tynecastle, where Hearts now sit 15 adrift at the foot of the table meaning the Nicholl will be without pressure to prove he is the man for the job.
Finally, we have John “Yogi” Hughes. Hughes was a legend at Easter Road as a player, and is Hibernian born and bred. The stumbling block for the former Livingston manager is that he has had what was considered an ill fated spell at Easter Road previous, with a top half finish and relatively plausible performances in Europa league qualifiers against Maribor, where they were unconvincingly eliminated 6-2 by the Slovenians. Hughes currently resides with his family in Edinburgh, and has been jobless since leaving Hartlepool at the end of last season.
The early bookies favourite is Kenny Shiels, but any of the other four are reasonable options. I personally think Jimmy Calderwood is the most feasible option, although Hibees probably won’t want to hear it. The man is proven at Scottish Premiership level, and his defensive tactics make his teams difficult to break down, a characteristic Hibs desperately lack. But keep an eye on Kenny Shiels, his football philosophy will appeal to both Rod Petrie and the Hibs fans.