Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Colin Calderwood Joins Hibs

If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen a tweet I sent a week past Sunday:

“Hearing Steve Clarke has got Hibs job.”

So, if nothing else, I need an ear trumpet.

How close did Clarke come to getting the job?

I don’t know. Living in Leith when Rod Petrie is on the hunt for a new manager is like picking up the phone and finding you’ve got a cross line with Dot Cotton and Hilda Ogden. Rumour, counter-rumour and gossip abound. Nobody knows anything so they fill the vacuum with something they’ve made up.

But only Rod Petrie knows.

And so it was, a week after my failed scoop, that Colin Calderwood was introduced to the media as the manager of Hibs.

The chairman was quick to call the appointment a “coup.” The fans seemed to disagree slightly.

Talk of Steve Clarke might have turned some heads. A friend of Zola or Mourinho is maybe more attractive than a friend of Chris Hughton who has previously managed Northampton Town and Nottingham Forrest.

That he apparently confirmed he’d been overlooked in favour of John Hughes 15 months ago raised some eyebrows. Let’s just interpret that as Rod Petrie now admitting he made a mistake that time around.

But Calderwood has enjoyed promotion as a boss with Town and Forrest and again as assistant with Newcastle (are Hibs lucky that the Norwich job didn’t come up at the same time? Is this an “N” fetish?).

That experience at Newcastle gives him experience of dealing with dressing rooms filled with the towering egos of giant man-children who are every bit as petulant, if richer, than some of the players who have allegedly been exerting a malign influence on the Hibs squad.

And he has the advantage of being Scottish without being “Scottish football.” It’s a brave decision by Petrie to get off the SPL merry-go-round but I think it’s one that should be applauded, and the break with the pattern of appointing former Hibs players must be welcomed given the prompt departures of Collins, Mixu and Hughes.

It’s impossible to say how Calderwood will do. Decent managers struggle at clubs that don’t suit them, bad managers thrive at clubs where the players and supporters respond to them. There are no guarantees – and plenty of risks – with any appointment.

So we wait and see. He’ll not be short of advice about how to improve things. But he’ll need to figure that out on his own.

As for those underwhelmed fans. Well, the Easter Road derby in the first week of November would be a good place to start winning over hearts and minds.