BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Hibernian head coach Alan Stubbs has vowed to continue his search for discarded diamonds after criticising how academies deal with maverick youngsters.
Stubbs revealed that new signing Jamie Insall felt like he had “won the lottery” after joining the capital club from English minnows Stourbridge on deadline day.
Working part-time for a laundry company, the 22-year-old had given up on his dream of senior football until he was offered a trial by Stubbs last month – and he wowed the Hibs coaching staff with his hunger and eye for goal.
As a former under-21s boss at Everton, Stubbs is acutely aware of the pros and cons of structured youth development south of the border and, as a consequence, he is happy to hand an opportunity to any talented player who may have slipped through the cracks.
“Jamie is a throwback. He looks like he’s been taken off a stockpile and thrown in,” Stubbs explained. “He’s like a little kid running round saying ‘wow, isn’t this fantastic.’
“Long may that continue because, with academies, you can get stereotypical players who all do the same thing, walk the same way, talk the same way. Jamie is different. There’s still room in football for people like that.
“I think when people have too much of a personality they don’t stay in the academies too long because people don’t like to work with them.
“They like people who do what they want and do what they say. Someone a bit different with an edge about them are looked upon as problematic when they shouldn’t be.”
Although he was already at the club when Stubbs arrived, Jason Cummings, released by Hearts and working as a gardener before joining Hibs, is another who has thrived under the Englishman, finishing last season as the Championship’s top scorer.
Scott Allan saw his work-rate and attitude questioned following his decision to leave Dundee United for West Bromwich Albion, with several loan spells proving unsuccessful. He, along with Fraser Fyvie, rejuvenated their careers at Easter Road when their progress had stalled.
Islam Feruz, whose reputation proceeded him when he arrived on loan from Chelsea on deadline day, will hope to similarly thrive at Hibs.
Whether axed by an academy, haunted by a negative reputation or released as a senior player, a pattern emerges regarding Stubbs’ willingness to give gifted players a second chance in Leith.
“The best ones have an edge to them in some sort of way,” he continued. “Whether it’s their personality or their training. There’s a reason why they are the best.
“They are close to being a genius and close to being an absolute nightmare. There’s been a few like that but I’d rather work with genius.”
Speaking of which, Stubbs was in attendance at Hampden on Monday evening to watch Germany’s 3-2 over Scotland, with he and first-team coach John Doolan seated beside Rangers’ management team Mark Warburton and David Weir.
However, as attention turns back to domestic matters and the fight for the Championship title, there was no room for small talk between the rivals as the World champions left everyone lost for words.
“Genius is the word. I was too busy watching the game [to chat to Warburton],” he smiled. “There was enough on that pitch to keep me occupied for 90 minutes.
“Germany were unbelievable. They have a few geniuses on the pitch who make it look so easy. What did we learn? That we would need £300million to buy them unless you get a top job!
“But that’s what it’s all about, striving to get better. The higher you go the better players you get to work with. Monday was a great opportunity to see the crème de la crème.”