Hibs make Paul Heckingbottom the man to halt Celtic's treble-treble bid

By David Walton

February 14, 2019

Hibernian have appointed Paul Heckingbottom as their new manager, meaning it’ll be he who’s tasked with ending Celtic’s treble-treble chase.

Celtic travel to Easter Road in just 19 days for a mouth-watering Scottish Cup quarter-final clash. By that point, Celtic will have hoped to have the treble-treble seriously in their sights.

Celtic will come up against a new foe next month (James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

Yet, the appointment of Heckingbottom has added some intrigue to the clash. After all, how many of us know what he’s all about? How could Hibs line-up under him? Will he make sweeping changes to their playing style?

Let’s have a quick look at what to expect from the new Hibs man next month.

His career so far

The majority of Heckingbottom’s past as a manager has been spent at Barnsley. Two cases as caretaker and one as the permanent manager. After those, an ill-fated spell at Leeds United saw him take charge of just 16 matches before being sacked.

His spell at Leeds was an interesting one to say the least. Despite managing just 16 matches, he was given until the end of the 2017/18 season.

He solidified Bailey Peacock-Farrell as his number one, and gave four other academy players their debuts. Bringing two other academy stars into match-day squads on top of that shows he has plenty of enthusiasm for the youths.

Northern Ireland international Bailey Peacock-Farrell has plenty to thank Paul Heckingbottom for (TF-Images/Getty Images)

Yet his time at Leeds only came about thanks to a highly-successful period at Barnsley.

After two stints as a caretaker, the latter seeing them win promotion to the Championship, Heckingbottom got the gig permanently.

His good form continued for the first half of last season. He took Barnsley to ninth, before eventually moving on to Leeds.

His style

Yet, more pertinently for Celtic, he has a knack of getting the best out of the players already at his disposal.

Heckingbottom likes to put a high press on, and really force defences into issues. This is where Hibernian have got a lot of joy out of the Hoops in the past.

At Easter Road in particular, Hibs have won their last two against Celtic thanks to high press tactics. Heckingbottom likes to stretch teams and hit sharp on the counter, similarly to Neil Lennon.

Neil Lennon’s style is similar to Heckingbottom’s (Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

It appears as though Hibs haven’t chosen to change much about their style of play at all.

Instead, and at face value, they’ve done their best to go for continuity in their playing-style.

Whether we see more academy players in the match-day squad than usual next month for Hibs remains to be seen. But Celtic can’t expect them to be struggling when they meet in a must-win clash.

Heckingbottom doesn’t seem the kind of coach that will change a lot about Hibs. They’ll remain as dangerous as ever. Neil Lennon going doesn’t change that.

For a further insight into what Heckingbottom’s mind, here’s an interview from Hibs TV.