Celtic favourite Chris Sutton backs the "quiet boy" from Hoops days who's nearing big opportunity

By Euan Davidson

December 18, 2021

Chris Sutton has backed former Celtic teammate Shaun Maloney for the Hibs job, although he’s expressed disappointment at an element of the timing.

Maloney has been heavily linked to the vacant dugout at Easter Road [Sun]. Formerly a Celtic youth coach, the Belgium assistant will reportedly take over at Hibs after tomorrow’s cup final.

Maloney is, at the time of writing, a key part of Roberto Martinez’s Belgium set-up. They’re ranked as the number 1 mens’ football team in the world by FIFA. Taking over a struggling Hibs side, then, is a remarkably different challenge for the former Bhoys attacker.

Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

However, Sutton believes the quiet lad he knew from his Celtic days is ready to take his first management job. He said [Daily Record]: “I’ll be most interested in how [the Hibernian] players respond to the appointment of Shaun Maloney.

“My old team-mate was a quiet boy in the dressing room, but he’s as bright as a button and he’ll have gathered so much information working with Belgium. It’s a big move by Hibs and it’s a shame he won’t be in the thick of it at the National Stadium with David Gray the caretaker.

“There’s two ways this can go. The Hibs players can be inspired at the prospect of impressing their manager at the same time as earning a cherished winners’ medal.”

“Seeing Ange with that trophy would be pretty special” | Hibernian vs Celtic Preview from Hampden

“Seeing Ange with that trophy would be pretty special” | Hibernian vs Celtic Preview from Hampden
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

Chris Sutton will know how intelligent Shaun Maloney is from their Celtic days, now Hibernian opportunity awaits

It’d be great to see Shaun Maloney announced and taking over at Hibernian. I’m a long-term supporter of his managerial career. Honestly, I’m kind of sad he won’t be coming to Celtic in some capacity.

Because the guy is smart. In 2019, he completed a Master’s at the Johann Cruyff Institute, and has been a popular pundit with his incisive analysis of tactics and club management. His education with Roberto Martinez will be so valuable.

Taking over at Hibernian, then, would be a really impressive first step as a manager in his own right. The squad is there; Jack Ross built a team capable of competing for Europe. Not only that, they walloped Rangers 3-1 in the League Cup Semi-Final to set up tomorrow’s game.

Photo by Nico Vereecken / Photo News via Getty Images

Perhaps, though, adding Shaun Maloney to the mix tomorrow might’ve added more pressure for the Hibernian players. And for Shaun Maloney himself. Given how Celtic are massive favourites, it’s less of a risk for all concerned.

For Chris Sutton’s part, he never entered the world of management but he worked with some iconic coaches. Kenny Dalglish and Martin O’Neill, for example. So he’ll know quality when he sees it.

And in Shaun Maloney, Celtic favourite Chris Sutton recognises fierce intelligence and determination.

Read more: Celtic boss makes short work of explaining viral Glasgow photo