Hibs board unlikely to land John Kennedy as failed Shaun Maloney experiment prompts preference for an experienced boss

Hibs are set to change tack after sacking Shaun Maloney after just four months as they target a more experienced candidate.

Easter Road supremo Ron Gordon and his boardroom contemporaries have begun shortlisting bosses to replace Maloney after a dismal end to the season.

The ex-Belgium coach was given his first managerial gig in December.

But he was axed on Tuesday with backroom staff Gary Caldwell, Valerio Zuddas and Brian Doogan all exiting too.

The Hibs hierarchy are now searching for a replacement to rebuild with more top-level experience.

Hibs are currently looking at potential candidates and welcoming applications, with American, English and European interest all on the table.

The next appointment will also be expected to work closely with Hibs head of recruitment Ian Gordon, the son of chairman Ron.

Celtic first-team coach John Kennedy has previously been a target for Hibs but is close to Maloney and is unlikely to leave the Hoops for Easter Road at this stage in his career.

Ross County boss Malky Mackay is in the betting and has seen his stock rise after leading Ross County into the top six.

Former Hibs player Scott Brown, who was recently interviewed for the St Mirren job, is another who has been mentioned but he has yet to manage and would fall into the same category as Maloney.

Hibs took the decision to sack the former Celtic and Aston Villa star on Tuesday after the weekend Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Hearts.

Hibs confirmed Maloney’s departure in a short statement.

Executive chairman Ron Gordon said: “Our hope in appointing Shaun Maloney as a young, highly regarded coach was that he would help us take the club forward, but ultimately it didn’t work out.

“We thank Shaun and his coaching staff for all their hard work and efforts and wish them all the best for the future.”

Gordon senior is set to speak to the media on Wednesday to explain the club’s reasons for the managerial change.

Maloney said his goodbyes to the players and staff at the Hibs Training Ground on Tuesday.

The former Celtic and Scotland star, who has previously coached the youths at Celtic and under Belgian boss Roberto Martinez, was appointed as Jack Ross’s successor at the end of last year.

He won just three games in the Premiership as Hibs failed to make the top six, crashing out on the split weekend with a limp defeat to rivals Hearts.

The final straw was the Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to the Jambos.

The Hibs board were bemused by his starting XI and then the defeat ended their European hopes.

All has not been well on both sides for several weeks.

Maloney has also been frustrated by his lack of backing especially after top striker Martin Boyle was sold to Al-Faisaly and wasn’t replaced.

Scotland striker Kevin Nisbet then suffered a season-ending injury and it left his team chronically short of firepower.

Maloney did get some of his signing targets in during the January but others were already on the radar club under their recruitment department.

Coach David Gray has been put in temporary charge of the first-team along with Eddie May and Jon Busch.

They will be in charge for the weekend clash as Hibs open up their bottom six assault against St Mirren.

Meanwhile, Hibs fan chief Colin Grieve feels the club should have given Maloney more time.

Grieve, secretary of the Southern branch of the Hibernian Supporters Club, said: “The majority of the people I have spoken to are a bit bemused by the timing of the decision.

“Some of Maloney’s decisions, like going with one up front, haven’t taken supporters to him. But you can’t go around sacking managers when you’re not getting results after only four months.

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“He’s not had a proper transfer window and has been unlucky with injuries and suspensions.

“A lot of fans think the club are worried about relegation, because there’s still a real possibility that could happen, depending on the last five games.

“There’s also been a lot of criticism for Ron Gordon for his decisions, especially on the management side of things.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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