Hibs need to look to Hearts model and if hiring Shaun Maloney was bad then sacking him was horrendous – Ryan Stevenson

This might not go down well on the other side of Edinburgh but Hibs need to look at Hearts if they’re to dig themselves out of an ever-deepening hole.

That’s the truth of the matter. One half of the capital divide is flourishing and the other is withering and it all comes down to decisions at the very top of both clubs.

I said at the time I never thought Shaun Maloney was the right fit for Easter Road and I was proved right.

But if appointing him was a bad call then sacking him after just 19 games was absolutely horrendous.

Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down after back-to-back derby defeats.

But that’s football – and more to the point that’s too many club owners for you now. Too many are not football people and make emotional decisions rather than football decisions.

Too many aren’t even in the country watching what’s going on when they make these massive calls.

Maloney has been treated shockingly and should have been given the summer to sort things out. Chief executive Ben Kensell had hyped him up as “a manager who has an attacking mentality, who’s progressive, and someone who is hungry for the opportunity to build something at this big club”.

Well he’s not been given a chance. I feel for him, he’s a good person, but I don’t think he will get another job in management now. This one is on the decision makers at Easter Road who need to learn lessons.

And they should start by looking across the city to Tynecastle.

Hibs don’t need a world-beater coach. They need a manager who understands the club, understands the league, who can put a winning team on the pitch with players who have a connection with the fans.

Hearts are flourishing because they went about hiring and then backing Robbie Neilson – someone who knows the fabric and the ethos of the club. And someone who has already proved he can manage at this level.

Ann Budge understands what makes Hearts tick, she was a season ticket holder all her life before taking over. And she is surrounded by people from top to bottom who do too – guys like Gary Locke as ambassador who bleed Hearts.

Crucially she has a manager who understands what it means and what it takes to be successful at Hearts.

Look at where they are now. Hearts have gone from Championship to third place in the Premiership at an absolute canter. And they have the Scottish Cup Final now to top it all off.

Hibs have nosedived in the opposite direction every bit as spectacularly after finishing third last year.

And while I have loved every second of the Jambos lording it over their rivals in he last couple of weeks, deep down I have to admit the two of them should be scrapping it out, punch for punch, for third place or better every season.

Robbie’s success this season has been remarkable.

A year ago he was getting stick from the fans – and me – for slogging their way to the Championship title and getting humiliated in the cup by Brora.

But not once did I call for his head. And thankfully not once did Ann Budge waver.

She stuck by Robbie because he was the right man for the job and now they are reaping the benefits.

He’s in talks to extend his contract and just like he joked he would lock Barrie McKay in his office until he signed a new deal – that’s what Ann should be doing now with the manager himself.

Win, lose or draw the final against Rangers – and I think they have a real chance at Hampden – then it has been a truly sensational season and that’s down to Robbie and his staff building a special group of players.

The gulf between Hearts and Hibs is humungous.

Two weeks ago the Jambos swept away their rivals in the league with ease. In Saturday’s semi final they were well off their best and still won the tie.

They’ve banked a minimum £3m Euro jackpot as a result and with a large chunk of that invested in the team then they can go on to create a legacy which would almost be untouchable.

There’s a chance for Hearts to really pull away as the third force in Scottish football and leave Hibs and the rest in their wake.

Then they can try and make inroads into the Old Firm dominance.

Key to all that is keeping the management team in place and the good thing is that Robbie has had a shot in England before.

He’s worked his way back to Hearts and while there’s a lot of managers who just float about clubs their whole career, Robbie has the chance to stay at Hearts for a long, long time.

If he does and if he continues to do what he’s doing then he will go down as one of the greatest managers in Hearts’ history.


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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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