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Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Monday, 4 October 2010 13:12 UK

Hibs under Hughes fail to blossom

Former Hibernian manager John Hughes

What next for Hibs after Hughes?

By Thomas McGuigan

John Hughes's managerial spell with boyhood heroes Hibs proved to be a short-lived and turbulent love affair.

Leith born and bred, the affable former Hibs captain certainly didn't lack passion during his time at Easter Road.

Last term, in his first full season in charge, the 46-year-old guided Hibs to a fourth-placed finish and Europa League qualification.

But an alarming slide down the table during the current campaign saw Yogi's 17-month reign come to an abrupt end.

Sitting third from bottom in the Scottish Premier League, Hughes remained upbeat following Saturday's defeat by St Johnstone, still maintaining he was the man to restore their fortunes.

On Monday, however, both he and the club admitted it was time for "a fresh face and new approach".

Former Hibs captain Craig Paterson, now a BBC Scotland pundit, said supporters were becoming increasingly disgruntled over poor results.

"I thought the manager may have been given more time as we're only seven games into the season," Paterson said.

Hibs have a habit of giving young managers a chance: Frank Sauzee, Tony Mowbray, John Collins, Mixu Paatelainen and John Hughes

Craig Paterson

"I know it hasn't been a good start but the club have to look at the bigger picture.

"At the end of last season, Hibs won only three of their last 16 games. This season: out of Europe, out of the CIS Cup and one win from seven in the league."

A 3-2 win away to Motherwell, on the opening day of the season, remains Hibs' solitary league victory of the current campaign.

Attractive going forward, Hibs could count on Derek Riordan, Anthony Stokes - before his transfer to Celtic - and Liam Miller to strike fear into defenders' hearts.

But shorn of a mean-spirited defence, too often they conceded goals and dropped points.

"Against Hamilton and Inverness they had chances to win the game; they took the lead against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park and then at 1-1 they missed an absolute sitter," said Paterson.

"They will look back at lots of games they turned into draws and defeats when they could have won."

John Hughes following the 2-0 defeat by St Johnstone on Saturday
Hughes's last game in charge was the 2-0 defeat by St Johnstone

Hughes was determined to build a Hibs side worthy of the refurbished Easter Road but defensive failings torpedoed his ambitions.

Reports of dressing-room "fisticuffs" among his players following the Co-operative Insurance Cup defeat by Kilmarnock didn't faze him.

"There were one or two words and I am wanting that," Hughes said afterwards.

"In terms of effort, commitment and spirit, it was there in abundance and I can't fault the boys on that."

The embattled boss would stress the importance of his players showing willingness in games and training, maintaining he was never let down in that respect.

But effort and commitment could only take Hibs so far and the supporters were beginning to agitate for change.

"Hibs fans expect a certain style of football. They want winning football and they want it played in the right manner," said Paterson.

"But at the moment they would settle for victories. In every league in the world you see managers setting out to say: 'we'd love to play attacking football but today we need to get a result and this is how we're going to set up'.


"Hibs have a habit of giving young managers a chance: Franck Sauzee, Tony Mowbray, John Collins, Mixu and John Hughes. All young managers, there's been a fair turnover.

"Is it time maybe for someone like a Craig Brown-type figure? With the success of Craig and Archie Knox at Motherwell, perhaps older managers will be in the frame.

"When Tony Mowbray was made manager, nobody at the press conference knew who was going to come through that door.

"It would be interesting to see if Hibs can pull one of those out of the hat; someone from leftfield who can come in and make an impact."

And Paterson is confident Hughes will find another job in Scotland's top flight.

"If jobs come up for grabs, then I believe John will be at the top of a few wish-lists," he said.

"Hopefully he'll be back in the game soon because football is always better when John Hughes is involved."

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see also
Hughes steps down as Hibs manager
04 Oct 10 |  Hibernian
Hughes at Hibs in pictures
04 Oct 10 |  Scottish Premier
'I'm the man for Hibs' - Hughes
03 Oct 10 |  Hibernian
No Hibs 'fisticuffs', says Hughes
23 Sep 10 |  Hibernian

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