Managerial Merry Go Roundabouts

Date: 17th December 2021

“Managerial Merry Go Roundabouts”

Our latest creative blog piece from our resident writer Donald Stewart.

“It’s that time of year – Turkey, overindulgence, wrapping paper, visits to overpriced markets, pantomimes in theatres and who gets the Christmas sack that did not come form Santa…

Am I alone, I wonder in trying to get my head round Jack Ross being sacked as the Hibs manager?

Was there not a time and not when he was steering them to the Cup Final, that people were suggesting he had redeemed his reputation through the time he was spending at Hibs after his spell in Sunderland?

Was I dreaming that?

He seemed, to me, a decent guy and in a job where the expectations of the supporters, like most fans, are unreasonable but built upon the past. Get isn’t every manager’s task to get above your rivals and have an occasional flurry of cup runs as well as flirt with the top 6 – on the road to a very decent season?

Aside from his current disastrous form of late, had he not done the majority of that?

After all, if you can manage to do that as well as have a decent team on the pitch with a flair player or two for the oohs and aahs of a mazy run down the wing all well and good but supporters can cope with a boring few wins that cement topflight status.

Did he achieve that and then hit a sticky patch?

Sticking with any manager is a perennial favourite topic of terrace talk as people wonder if the time is right for a change or given the success that he has given us that we should stick with him and show him some loyalty, after all he brought that fantastic win against/ that great cup run/ that run of results that allowed us to/bought in X who has been magnificent etc. etc. Hibs are even in a national cup final… It’s all a bit premature Danny Lennon for my liking…

And so, Hibs will stride out onto the Hampden turf with a caretaker or a set of people associated with the training ground in charge.

Rather than a manager.

Nothing necessarily wrong in that and the team behind the manager have every right to be the ones lauded and applauded for their work in getting the team and the club to where they deserve to be.

But speculation, the national pastime of all fans who have a manager on the ropes or are without a man in the dugout, is rife.

Will it be Alex Neil? Will it be Neil Lennon? Will it be a foreign appointment? Will it be a rooky from within or a manage from lower down who is worthy of a punt?

It will not be the rest of the managers in Scottish football currently contemplating P45s like David Hopkin or Brian Rice or Gus MacPherson. Their perceived lack of success at lower divisions shall not attract the Hibs owners into contracts.

Alex Neil intrigues me.

I was covering Hamilton games when he was the caretaker at the club and just before his appointment. He has, of course, in Scottish terms built his reputation on his time with the Accies. Managers who then go down south to try their hand at management in a different league, similar structure, and get some success, until they fail, are worthy of discussion. Whilst David Moyes and Sir Alex are two notable successes – though with plenty of bumps and scrapes along the way – there are a few whose times in English football could be claimed to be slightly less impressive – Jackie McNamara, Derek Adams for example.

Neil went off to Norwich and provided them with success. Successive promotions for Neil from Championships in Scotland and then England into the two Premier Leagues was notable. Norwich fell out the Premiership after only one season. Struggles in the Championship saw him leave, he turned up as the manager of Preston North End, Craig Brown was also there for a spell, and 4 years later, after not getting them promoted to the Promised Land, was sacked early this year.

What is not in doubt is his experience and having sent out the “I am ready to manage again in Scotland” message he suddenly looks like the likeliest of candidates.

Will he be at Hampden? Will he be at the front in his first game in charge?

Fans shall spend the next few days in social media overdrive as they discuss and argue and fall out and fall back in again behind the new manager and welcome him with open arms. In Scottish footballing terms it would be good to have the likes of Neil back – he was refreshing, open, honest and forthright: it was never a spade.

And as we get to Christmas, the overdrive is on offer for other teams who are contemplating change for January – and it is not who they buy in or get on loan but can the club continue to have X in charge to spend the money and then live with the consequences of their disastrous purchases in the run in to the title/escape from relegation etc.

What Ross proves is that no matter what success you have brought to your club, the nail upon which you coat is hung is aye a bit shoogly…”

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