Hibs stalwart Paul Hanlon insists he has never seen attention to detail like new boss Paul Heckingbottom


PAUL HANLON is no stranger to the upheaval and trepidation caused by the arrival of a new manager. Paul Heckingbottom is the eighth permanent boss the Hibernian stalwart has worked under during his 11 years as a first-team player.

However, Hanlon can confidently say that, after little more than a week in the job, the diligent Yorkshireman has displayed an attention to detail he has never experienced before.

The 29-year-old, the club’s longest-serving player alongside Lewis Stevenson, has been dazzled by the slick video packages, the focused tactical presentations and willingness to embrace technologies such as GPS.

Hanlon has been impressed by the new man in the Easter Road hot-seat

No stone, it seems, will be left unturned under the new man at the helm.

“I’d say out of the managers I’ve had, he pays the most attention to detail – every small factor,” said Hanlon. “In terms of analysis this is definitely the most we’ve worked.

“Most days we’ve got a video meeting showing clips of training; things that we’re doing well or can improve on. He even showed us clips from the reserve game the other day.

“It’s the repetition of showing us those positive things all the time and showing us exactly what he wants. It’s incredibly thorough.

“It’s a great way to get the information in to us. It’s easy to talk but some people learn better from seeing it rather than someone saying it. It’s straight to the point.

“We’re not sitting in the video room for hours on end watching it. It’s two or three topics: ‘that’s what we’re going to work on today’ or ‘that’s what we should have done better.’

“We go out to training and we’re ready to work on it.

“I’ve had I’ve never had a video every day in terms of what you’re going to work on in training that day. It’s a fresh approach and one we’re all relishing.”

As these methods sink in, spare a thought for poor Stevie Mallan, who has barely been given a minute’s peace since Heckingbottom’s appointment, having played under him at Barnsley.

“I think the boys have been on at Stevie about everything!” Hanlon laughed. “He’s getting bombarded with questions every day.

Mallan is the man in the know about Heckingbottom (Pic: Hibs TV)

“We had a meeting on Wednesday that contained a bit more analysis stuff and we’re all like: ‘Stevie, what’s happening?! What’s this meeting about? What’s that?’

“He’s dealing with it alright just now. He might snap eventually.”

While Hanlon may be acutely aware of what a managerial change means for the players, he accepts that the feeling of uncertainty never gets any easier to contend with. The sense of relief and optimism following a positive start to the Heckingbottom and Robbie Stockdale era is palpable.

“I’d like to think that experience I’ve had would help me but, at the same time, you still feel the same anxiety and that desperation to impress,” he continued.

“There are always doubts when a new manager comes in but you need to be confident in your own ability and adapt to what the manager wants.

“Thankfully, I’ve never done anything embarrassing in front of a new manager or felt like ‘I’ve blown my chance with this guy’. It’s never quite as clear cut as that. It’s more a gradual process.

“When a new manager comes in it creates a buzz. Everyone’s got to impress him and boys who maybe weren’t in favour before have now got their chance. Training’s been pretty lively but the emphasis is that it’s a squad game and we’re all in it together.”

While Heckingbottom has emphasised that he arrives in Edinburgh with a long-term philosophy, he is not ignorant of the short-term goal of reaching the top-six.

And, with Hibs playing 24 hours before Motherwell and St Johnstone, they will indeed ascend to sixth spot with a win over Dundee on Friday night – even if it is only until Saturday evening.

Heckingbottom is eyeing the top half of the Premiership in just his second game at the helm

“Friday is a big game looking at the top-six,” he added. “It is the consistency factor we’ve not really had this season. So to beat Dundee and get back-to-back wins going in to the St Johnstone game would be great.

“We feel if we take the good parts of the Hamilton game and build on them then we’ve got more than a good opportunity to do it.”