A threadbare squad has returned to Hibs training centre at East Mains to begin preparations for the season ahead although with many clubs already having started to sign players for the new campaign, the Easter Road outfit are yet to confirm their manager (granted this will likely happen tomorrow) so will the Hibees promotion prospects be hampered by the delay in sacking Terry Butcher and the subsequent wait to appoint, presumably, Alan Stubbs?
Hibs face two main challengers in the race for promotion, Rangers and Hearts, with both having made at least one potentially match winning signing.
Meantime in Leith, one of Butcher’s final decisions as boss, and arguably his best, was to release 11 of the playing squad which failed both him and the supporters last season.
Factor in the sale of James Collins to Shrewsbury then it’s not difficult to imagine the benefits an early appointee could have had when it boiled down to the playing staff.
Of course, there are reasons for the current situation with new CEO Leeann Dempster correctly wishing to evaluate the club prior to making any decisions after her arrival at the beginning of the month.
So far she’s made a perfectly good call on Butcher’s fate, made promising noises regarding the full re-structuring of the footballing side of operations and looks happy to enter into dialogue with the fans on an on-going basis.
However this doesn’t detract from what many fans believe is a foolhardy position for Hibs to be found in.
Ahead of a season when the Scottish second tier will be stronger than at any point in it’s history, Hibernian are currently in a position where they have no recognised goalkeeper or genuine right back on the books whilst other positions are covered by more of last season’s failed squad.
There was a hope, once the majority of the team which capitulated into relegation fodder during the second half of the 2013/14 had been released, new additions would be made quickly and the players would be primed from the very beginning of pre season training and raring to go when the big kick off got underway.
Clearly things haven’t panned out as most supporters would have liked although the retention of another of Butcher’s backroom staff, Steve Marsella, who has apparently been allowed to continue in his role of Chief Scout, could prove to be a master stroke.
He was famed for bringing many low profile names to Inverness during his time there (with Billy McKay the biggest steal of all) where they were transformed into genuine top flight quality players, and Marsella’s services will surely be utilised by the new manager upon arrival.
Hibs have had some lavish failures over the past few years under a succession of managers so in order to pull some of the fans back onside need to show their true ambition when they state they want to head back to the Premiership at the first time of action.
Should they spend big in relative Championship terms with a marquee signing or two (James McFadden anyone?), season tickets will soon rise to comparable levels from previous years and the more bums on seats the more money is generated for the transfer budget.
This pre season is the biggest the Hibees have faced in years, it’s about time the new man was confirmed and set about business without interference or penny pinching from above.
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