Darren McGregor laughs off talk of Hibs title charge – but insists being a Hibee has never been so exciting

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DARREN McGREGOR reckons talk of an impending Hibs title charge is pie in the sky.

However, he is adamant there has arguably never been a more exciting time to be a Hibee.

McGregor, 33, revealed that he only found out about Ron Gordon’s takeover of the capital club 30 minutes before it became public knowledge.

It was swiftly confirmed that the US-based businessman had agreed to wipe out Hibs’ £3 million debt and provide a seven-figure cash injection. However, there will be no impending spending spree in the transfer market.

While McGregor is acutely aware that Gordon’s plans to improve infrastructure and focus on Hibs’ youth development programme may not be as thrilling as a multi-million pound splurge, he believes the future has never been brighter.

“The news of the takeover only broke to us about half an hour before it became widespread knowledge in the media,” recalled McGregor of the momentous day last week. “It’s a great time to be at the club.

“I don’t think it changes too much in the immediate future but, being a Hibs supporter myself, to know we have no debt, own all of our assets and have an owner who wants to build for the future around youth is terrific.

“Of course it’s one of the most exciting times to ever be a Hibs fan – when you have a man of his [Gordon’s] stature coming in.

“He has laid out a plan of action and wants to build the infrastructure and focus on the academy set-up. Going forward, that is what Scottish football needs. It’s a project that he wants to succeed in and he is obviously a very successful man – so I’m delighted to have him on board.”

As a die-hard Hibee – born and raised in Leith – McGregor is attuned to the lofty expectations among some of his more excitable fellow fans following the US-based businessman’s ascension to power.

Regular chants of ‘Ron’s here to stop 10 in a row’ broke out among the impressive 1000-strong travelling Hibs support at Brunton Park on Tuesday night.

McGregor is adamant Paul Heckingbottom’s men can go toe-to-toe with anyone over 90 minutes – but is honest enough to admit that the prospect of a bona fide title challenge is far-fetched.

“I’ve heard the ‘we’ll compete with Celtic and Rangers’, and that’s a bit of wishful thinking just at the minute,” he smiled. “That’s not to say over the course of the season we can’t compete with them and challenge them in games.

“But it’s a bit misguided if anyone thinks we are going to go out and start buying expensive players. The infrastructure and approach will probably stay the same, but we are in a really positive environment and building for the future.”

McGregor has also moved to assuage any fears regarding Gordon’s motives, adding: “I’m sure that Sir Tom [Farmer] and Rod Petrie wouldn’t have sold their shares to someone they didn’t have faith in.

“I’ve heard snippets of what he has had to say, but he sounds like a family-orientated man and someone who is definitely in it for the right reasons.”

McGregor was speaking in the aftermath of Hibs’ breathless 4-3 win over Steven Pressley’s Carlisle United on Tuesday, during which the experienced stopper scored an own goal. The League Two held a 3-1 lead going into the final 18 minutes before an astonishing turnaround.

Hibs played out a pre-season thriller at Brunton Park

“I went into the dressing room after the game and said to Oli [Shaw]: ‘that’s how you finish!’” laughed McGregor. “No, I thought we played really well at times and, although they scored three more goals than we would’ve liked, we’ve probably learned more from that game than if we had won 1-0.”

McGregor acknowledges that Heckingbottom’s Hibs are still a work in progress as the likes of Tom James, Adam Jackson, Scott Allan, Joe Newell and Christian Doidge settle in, but has vowed they will ready for the Betfred Cup curtain-raiser against Stirling Albion on Saturday.

McGregor added: “You are trying to get your fitness levels up and the gaffer is working to implement the way he wants to play.

“We got a little bit of that towards the tail end of last season but we have a few new faces and it’s just about getting these boys on the same page and putting the ideas across. You can see patterns of play emerging.

“But the gaffer has made it clear: the season starts properly on Saturday. It’s a competitive game and the League Cup is a vitally important tournament and we want to do really well in it.”

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