Top line summary

  • Happy with the window - wanted to freshen up the squad and create depth and competition for places
  • Players out on loan challenged to play their way back into plans or put themselves in shop window
  • Triantis signing a big boost after it looked dead while Mayenda offers something else in attack 
  • Hasn't spoken to Bill Foley yet but keen to have a conversation with him before the summer

Are you happy with the window in general?
“I’m really happy with the business we did. We’ve brought in quality players from big clubs.
“We’ve moved seven players out and brought seven in, so we worked within the budget, but I needed the support of the club and the Gordon family to allow me to do that business. I felt getting to January that we really did need to freshen the squad up.
“Everybody who went out, whether it was loan or permanent, went on good terms, and everybody who’s come in has come in for the right reasons - to help Hibs, to wear the shirt with pride, and have the opportunity of playing for a big club in big games.
“It’s given me competition for places and real squad depth which I haven’t really had all season due to a lot of injuries, then the boys going on international duty. So I’m really confident that once these boys gel - and they’ve gelled well so far in the last couple of days - we can really give a good account of ourselves.”

Did you know this size of overhaul was needed, or is it just the way things worked out?
“I wanted to bring four or five in ideally; it ended up being seven, but there were already players who were going out.
“When you inherit a team and you come in after pre-season, it’s not easy. I felt the boys gave me everything but then we had the opportunity to bring in the quality players I feel I have.
“I think it has been good business by the club, and it also meant some players who weren’t really playing here could get out and get game time as well.
"I see that as a real benefit because they either play their way back into the team for next season, or they put themselves in the shop window and I think that’s the beauty of the loan system.”

A lot of new faces - but how do you accelerate the team-bonding?
“Well, you can’t do a night out like you used to! Going to Dubai, we went with half a team - ten or twelve first-team players and a lot of young players.
“The window shut on Thursday night but we’ve had a couple of meetings and that’s where I’ve expressed what I expect and we’ve talked about the first half of the season and the only way now is to get them on the training ground.
“We see them sitting and having lunch together - we try to create a culture where everyone has breakfast and lunch together. And we’ve got a couple of away trips coming up to Inverness and Aberdeen so a lot of time sat on the bus where the boys can get to know each other.”

How useful is it that Nectar Triantis knows how you like to play and what you expect?

“That is helpful. It’s always nice to work with players that you know. He’s a good player, really humble but a real competitor. I watched him play for Sunderland this season, he started a couple of games and did well. But with a squad the size of Sunderland’s and them bringing players in, it was off the table – then things changed quickly.

“We had the opportunity to move and, with Paul Hanlon being off sick this week, it would have left me with one centre-back again this weekend, the same as the Rangers game. The opportunity to bring Nectar in was off the back of Christian Doidge going to Forest Green; it meant I had the budget to do it.

“It was one I didn’t need to think twice about, because he’s a very good young player. The opportunity to get him into the squad this weekend was good timing.

How important is it that he’s won a title before?

“He’s a real competitor. He might be 20 years old, like Will Fish, but they’ve had experience. I don’t believe age is anything to do with why you pick a team. Young players are all over the world now, playing Champions League football at 16 and 17 years old. So when you look at that, a young player to me is Rory Whittaker, who is 16. He’s one we have to manage, because he’s still developing and still growing.

“We try to develop our own young players at the club. Sometimes that’s about managing them with when they play in the first team, when they play in the 18s. But, at 20 years old, Will Fish has played for Man United and Nectar has already won a championship in Australia. So they have those experiences in how to win games of football.

“This is a physical league, so you have to be able to compete. And nobody could question either of them when it comes to competing.

Tell us about Eliezer Mayenda...

“He’s another young player, someone who has been playing in the first team since he was 16 out in France. But Sunderland is a big club with big expectations. If you are going to rely on an 18-year-old to score you goals every week, that’s a massive ask. The opportunity for him to come here, with Harry going out the other way, he gives us options on both flanks and as a striker.

“What we haven’t had is any competition for places in that front four. I’ve had to ask a lot of Dylan Vente, Martin Boyle, Élie Youan and Jair Tavares. I’ve asked it of them every week because there wasn’t anyone there to provide competition.

“We’ve got a lot of games coming up. I’ve no doubt that Eliezer can give us a real threat. He’s quick, he’s athletic – and the kid is hungry to come and get minutes, help the team here.

“I’m really looking forward to working with him and seeing him adapt. What we need, with a lot of games coming up, is the ability to rotate players – and change players within the game.

“At some point in the game, you’ll want to make multiple changes, like we did at the weekend against Kilmarnock. Myziane Maolida came off the bench, two or three others did the same. We didn’t win the game, we probably should have done.

“That impact off the bench is important in modern-day football. That’s why you have eight or nine subs. If you have eight or nine subs who can come off and make an impact, you can go into games and, for example, press teams higher – because you have the legs to come off the bench and continue to do that.”

You'll be chuffed that the Bill Foley investment is moving forwards?

“The whole Bournemouth partnership is really exciting for the club and for the fans. My relationship with the club was before there was any investment or anything agreed. It just adds to the relationship we have with the club. I’m not privy to the other stuff and it’s not been discussed internally.

“I know Ben [Kensell, Hibs CEO] has worked very hard with the SFA to get that rubber-stamped but for me it’s been about getting through this window within budget and looking to next season.

“I’ll sit down and see what the situation looks like for next year because there is an opportunity to bring in a few players. But that is in the future – I’m focusing on the present and that’s St Mirren on Saturday.

Are there shared ambitions between yourself and Bill?

“I’ve not spoken to Bill at all. Hopefully once everything gets settled we can have a conversation about his vision and what he did in ice hockey.

“It’s been mentioned about the investment in the stadium and training grind and we’ll work out what will come into the budget. Hopefully that will give us the opportunity to bring in a a few more quality players to build a competitive team.

“It says a lot about Hibs that this is the club he chose. It says a lot about the fans and the history of the club. It’s a well-run club that is well-supported, all over the world.

“There is expectation here but I like that he chose Hibs. I’ve got big ambitions as well. I understood the expectations and knew the challenge when I took the job on. We want to build the team moving forward. Like in life, nothing comes easy and there are ups and downs in football.

“But I am looking forward to these new players pulling on the Hibs shirt in front of the fans, because you know if you put the effort in they will really support you. I think the club is in a good place.”