By Martin Clark
John “Yogi” Hughes has left Hibernian under fire from fans and most likely the Board. Hughes who has been at the club for only 17 months left the club “by mutual consent” which I think was just a polite way of him being fired. Hibs have not won a match under Hughes since the opening game of the SPL in August, beating Motherwell at Fir Park 3-2.
Chairman Rod Petrie did have nice things to say about Hughes after he announced his departure saying “John has been a hard-working and dedicated manager of Hibernian ... We thank him for his honesty and passion for the club.”
I don’t think the whole board agreed with the sentiment as the streak of no wins will not be helping the club or helping their finances. Hughes had also said he enjoyed his time at the club and it will always have "a place in his heart". The fans have been getting more and more frustrated by Hughes lack of ability or knowledge to turn the clubs fortunes around and the final blow was Saturday’s game against St Johnstone which Hibs lost 2-0 and Hughes made no substitutions even although his team and tactics were not very effective.
The problems are not only just his lack of imagination tactically or his inability to get the players performing to the level they are able, he also lost some key players during the last window with the first choice goal keeper Yves Ma-Kalambay and Abdessalam Bejelloun moving club. Many fans were unhappy with Hughes’ tactics and team choice often playing the players out of position having Riordan, a striker, on the left wing for a large part of the season and starting players who maybe aren’t good enough to play at that level or are too unreliable during key games like Colin Nish who is not the most prolific goal scorer yet gets played up front on his own, then he wonders why the games are going against them.
The biggest blow however was the loss of their top goal scorer Anthony Stokes, sold to Celtic (Hibs unofficial parent club) for £1,2 million and brought in striker Valdas Trakys but mainly relied on the striking talents of Nish and Derek Riordan. The shocking start to the season is a stark contrast to the great first half of last season they had when Hughes had just joined the club and as a ex-player and long time fan he boosted the club and the players into the top spot, for a short time, but were consistently challenging in the top half until they started to slip down the table.
Now whoever takes over as manager will inherit a demoralised team who may not be up to the task of fighting their way back to the top half of the league, and whoever does succeed Hughes will have a tough start with one home game then two away followed by a derby with Hearts at home.
The Hearts game may be the deciding factor for the rest the season with possible safety mid-table if they win or a plausible relegation battle if they lose. With the international break it does seem like a good time to cut the dead weight and hopefully salvage a decent season with a new manager providing some inspiration to the team helping them to kick start the winning form and cement his favour with the fans with a home win against their arch-rivals Hearts.
The odds may be on a old Hibs player who takes control of the team as the last three, Hughes, Mixu Paatelainen and John Collins have been but giving just how well these three have done maybe the best advice would be to avoid all ex-players and maybe go for a more experienced head for the job.