Mathie de­fends re­cruit­ment set-up at Hibs de­spite slow start

Evening Times - - SPORT | BACK LINE -

GRAEME MATHIE, the Hiber­nian sport­ing di­rec­tor, has de­fended the Easter Road club’s much-ma­ligned sum­mer sign­ing pol­icy but in­sists they are mak­ing con­stant strides to im­prove their re­cruit­ment.

While Paul Heck­ing­bot­tom paid the price for an un­der­whelm­ing start to the cam­paign with his job ear­lier this month, many of the play­ers he brought to the club have also found them­selves in the fir­ing line.

The likes of Adam Jack­son, Josh Vela, Joe Newell and Glenn Mid­del­ton have failed to shine among 10 new­com­ers this term, with Scott Al­lan and Melker Hall­berg ar­guably the only two stand­out suc­cesses of the batch.

Prior to il­lus­trat­ing his preda­tory in­stincts with a clin­i­cal hat-trick against St John­stone in Hibs’ last fix­ture, £350,000 striker Chris­tian Doidge was another ar­rival who has failed to set the heather alight, be­com­ing some­thing of a light­ning rod for fans’ ire.

Mathie, how­ever, is cir­cum­spect re­gard­ing some of the fury that has been di­rected to­wards the depart­ment he was, un­til re­cently, in charge of.

“You don’t op­er­ate in per­for­mance sport if you want to be im­mune to crit­i­cism,” said Mathie, who was the club’s head of re­cruit­ment dur­ing the clos­esea­son be­fore as­cend­ing to sport­ing di­rec­tor.

“We crit­i­cise our­selves at times be­cause we want to re­flect on things.

“I’ve done a big piece of work now to look at the re­cruit­ment we’ve done over the last five-anda-half years.

“We’ve looked at the sign­ings that have turned out pos­i­tively and maybe those that haven’t – and let’s see if we can iden­tify key fac­tors to al­low us to be bet­ter next time.

“How­ever. the un­for­tu­nate thing in foot­ball is that you get an ap­praisal three times a week! If a re­sult is pos­i­tive, life’s good and re­cruit­ment’s great. If it goes the other way, it’s the op­po­site.

“We take some of the crit­i­cism over the sum­mer on the chin but we be­lieve the play­ers are good play­ers. It’s never an ex­act sci­ence when you re­cruit.”

The same can be said of man­age­rial ap­point­ments. How­ever, Mathie is con­fi­dent Jack Ross will prove to be an in­spired choice by Hibs and is not per­turbed by his dis­missal af­ter 17 months in charge of Sun­der­land, dur­ing which he failed to gain pro­mo­tion from League One.

In­deed, he can ef­fort­lessly reel off the swathe of pos­i­tives which he feels out­weighed any neg­a­tives.

“A lot is said about Jack hav­ing the big­gest bud­get in League One, which is true,” con­tin­ued Mathie. “But you have to dig deeper and re­alise that he was at­tempt­ing to tran­si­tion play­ers on League One salaries into a dress­ing room with others earn­ing Premier League wages.

“That’s a chal­lenge. He was try­ing to get them to be part of a team and work to­gether. That abil­ity to man­age in­di­vid­u­als and get the best out of them came across.

“We are a club look­ing to tran­si­tion through young play­ers, which he has done. He has picked the right time to bring through young play­ers at his pre­vi­ous clubs and brought about sales.

“Other as­pects were his abil­ity to change shape and for­ma­tion to adapt to the teams and play­ers he was up against and his abil­ity to turn draws into wins with pos­i­tive sub­sti­tu­tions.”

He added: “No-one gets the Hibs job based on a good in­ter­view or Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tion.

“It should give Jack a lot of com­fort that the process was as rig­or­ous as it was be­cause he was the out­stand­ing can­di­date.”

Ross will come into a wellde­fined struc­ture at the Hiber­nian Train­ing Cen­tre, bring­ing just as­sis­tant head coach John Pot­ter to the club with him.

Aside from that he will work with ex­ist­ing coaches Colin Nish, Grant Mur­ray, Alan Combe and Lee Makel, head of academy coach­ing Eddie May, per­for­mance an­a­lyst Calvin Charl­ton and Mathie him­self.

“There is a lot writ­ten and thought about the ‘struc­ture’ here – but the struc­ture is just a num­ber of peo­ple do­ing their jobs,” said Mathie.

“The head coach role is to de­liver per­for­mances and results on a Satur­day. So the ques­tion is: what can we do, as a staff, to sup­port that?

“Jack has the final say on who he signs, the team he picks, the for­ma­tion he plays. None of that is dic­tated by any­one other than him.

“But we’ve all got to be on the edge of things. It’s not just down to the head coach or his as­sis­tant. We can’t op­er­ate like that be­cause that’s not how you get the best out of a high­per­for­mance en­vi­ron­ment.”

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