BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
ALAN Stubbs insists he will not allow speculation linking him with a switch to former club Bolton Wanderers to distract him from his attempts to bring league and cup success to Hibernian.
Reports have linked the one-time Trotters defender with a return to manage his old side following their sacking of ex-Celtic boss Neil Lennon back in March.
However, the 44-year-old is adamant he will not allow anything to deflect his focus from the task he currently has at Hibs, who are seeking to finish the season by winning promotion to the Premiership and by ending the club’s 114-year wait for the Scottish Cup.
He added: “I played at Bolton for over seven years and it’s a good club. I’ve had speculation already this season. It’s the crazy world we live in, I can’t stop it.
“It’s the same speculation that said I was under pressure a couple of weeks ago. That’s football.
“It would take more than that to distract me, when you’ve still got the opportunity to achieve what you’ve wanted to achieve all season.
“Even if I was being linked with a Premier League job, it wouldn’t distract me whatsoever.
“All we’ve done is give ourselves an opportunity and I’d much rather be in the position that we’ve achieved something in two weeks’ time. I’d like to achieve something with the team and they’ve got a good opportunity to do it.
“I’ve got a year left on my contract. You know what football’s like. I’m not even looking at next week just now, we literally are taking it from day to day right now.”
The other thing Stubbs was keen to make light of ahead of this evening’s play-off semi-final first leg with Falkirk at Easter Road was any notion of hostility between himself and opposite number Peter Houston.
A ‘war of words’ appears to have built up between the two camps as the season has gone on with both seeking to land second place in the Championship.
The Bairns, of course, won that race, allowing them an extra nine days of rest, whilst Hibs were forced into a hard-fought quarter-final against Raith Rovers over two legs.
However, whilst on the pitch the sides are certain to keenly contest the right to face Kilmarnock in the Premiership play-off final, Stubbs has played down talk of an off-field rift with Houston.
He added: “Peter and I have a good relationship, fantastic. We are two managers of football clubs who want to achieve the same thing. It probably makes it inevitable that sometimes we will lock horns.
“I want what he wants. Unfortunately one of us will miss out and I don’t want that to be me.
“It is just sometimes – and I respect (the media) – the words get taken out of context. Sometimes it makes for good reading.
“I have got no problem with Peter. We go in at the end of the game and we share a drink – we may not share the same opinion, but that is normal.
“There are not many managers who come out at the end of a game and one says ‘we were brilliant’ and the other says ‘yes, I know, you were’. There’s not many that do that.
“But the most important thing is I will always have 100 per cent respect for my opposite number. I can categorically state that.”