Patience pays off for Stubbs after landing Rotherham job

Alan Stubbs.
Alan Stubbs.
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IT remains to be seen if it proves a marriage made in heaven, but Tony Stewart’s delight at tying the knot – in a footballing sense – with Alan Stubbs is self-evident.

The Merseysider will be unveiled as Rotherham United’s fourth full-time manager in just over eight months this lunch-time, with patience having proved a virtue for the 44-year-old, who has signed a three-year deal.

Stubbs, a classy central defender in his playing days with the likes of Bolton Wanderers, Everton and Celtic, was interviewed for the Millers post in the autumn, only for the position to go to Neil Redfearn.

Now the former Hibernian manager has secured his chance second time around at the New York Stadium, having left the Edinburgh outfit on a high after recently leading them to their first Scottish Cup success in 114 years following a dramatic victory over Rangers at Hampden Park.

Not that the path was completely straightforward with Stubbs forced to resign from his position at Easter Road – where he had another year left on his deal – to force a move through after compensation could not be agreed.

Hibs were keen to hold on to highly-rated Stubbs, but a move back to England, both for professional and personal reasons, with his family remaining south of the border during his two years in Edinburgh, proved a big driver.

Stubbs, who started his coaching career at Everton, will be joined in South Yorkshire by his number two at Hibs, John Doolan.

On the appointment of Stubbs, Stewart said: “We are obviously pleased and think we have got a good catch.

“He wanted it and we wanted it and it’s a lovely marriage.

“We are ambitious and he is and that cocktail might put us in good stead.

“Him and his number two have plenty of energy and we are looking forward to a good future and developing in our third season in the Championship.

“His record speaks for itself and it is exciting to be looking forward to the future under Alan. He knows where we are at and what we want and are looking forward to him putting his ‘fit’ on it and us moving upwards.”

Stubbs’s loss is an untimely one for Hibs, who had reluctantly allowed him permission to speak with Rotherham.

But despite Hibs’ kudos as one of the traditionally bigger clubs in Scotland behind the Old Firm, one man who knows both Stubbs and his new club well says moving to the Millers will have represented a ‘no-brainer’.

That figure being former Millers striker and ex Livingston boss Mark Burchill, a team-mate of Stubbs’s at Celtic.

Burchill, who had a loan and a permanent spell with the club, said: “You can only manage to a certain level with the players you have got at your disposal.

“The players he had at Hibs are on ‘x’ amount per week.

“But the wages they can pay at Rotherham are three, four, five times as much as the Hibs players are getting.

“It’s an absolute no-brainer for him to go.

“It is a natural progression for him to go and I think any guy in Scotland, even at the lower end of the Premiership, would jump at this job, I do have no doubt about that whatsoever.

“There is no comparison, whatsoever. Fans in Scotland do not realise, there are 50 clubs bigger than the clubs at the bottom half of the Premiership, that is a simple fact.

“They are bigger, they can pay bigger money, the money they get from Sky TV is a lot more, and as a manager and a coach, a lot of it comes down to how much money you have got to spend.

“He is still not in the top league and next season, there is going to be massive pressure on Hibs to get up, and there are no guarantees.

“So, it is the perfect time for him to get out, having won the Scottish Cup and gone down in history at Hibs.”