By DARREN JOHNSTONE – Capital City Press
Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs admits he is relishing the prospect of pitting his wits against friend Davie Weir – just two years after the former Scotland defender served as his assistant at Everton.
The pair were team-mates for a total of fives years at Goodison Park and then linked up as coaches when Weir supported Stubbs in the Under-21 set-up.
Weir has returned to Rangers as Mark Warburton’s number two and that friendship will be put to the test in the forthcoming campaign with both Hibs and the Ibrox club set to battle it out for the Championship title
Stubbs said: “We have obviously had a lot of on and off the pitch activity together.
“We had a very good partnership together on the pitch at Everton and then Davie came in and worked with me with the Under-21s.
“We knew each other’s game. We weren’t exactly blessed with speed but we were very intelligent as footballers and we read the game really well.
“When Davie Moyes brought him in, he asked if he could come in and work alongside me as my assistant, and we had a good time together.
“He is a very knowledgeable coach. He is intelligent, which is not something you can say about a lot of footballers but he is an intelligent guy.
“I’m delighted for him. He has obviously got a really close affinity with Rangers and he did fantastic there as a player.
“It will be a big challenge for him. He is not going in with his eyes closed but it will be a bit different for Mark.
“It’s a huge challenge for Mark, one he wouldn’t have come across in his short time in management.”
Stubbs admits he has also crossed paths with new Rangers manager Warburton, who has moved to Rangers after impressing in his 18 months in charge at Brentford.
He added: “I have had quite a few chats with Mark when he was at Brentford, especially about the NextGen Series (Under-19 European club competition) because we were keen to go in that. He is also an intelligent man.
“He has only been in football a relatively short time, he took over a talented squad from Uwe (Rosler) and he got them promoted.
“Then last season they were a revelation and took the Championship by surprise. They were very close in the end as well.”
After finishing second ahead of Rangers last term, Hibs were defeated at the play-off semi-final stage by the Ibrox club.
Stubbs admits his target to clinch the league title will come under severe pressure from the Glasgow club.
He added: “Are Rangers now a different prospect? I think they will be.
“I think Mark will bring in some good players, that’s not to say that previous managers didn’t.
“He has a good eye for young players, has good contacts in England and has been around quite a few of the clubs. Potentially he will bring in a couple of loan signings.
“So I’m looking forward to pitting my wits against them.”