Hibernian: Neil Lennon, Graham Arnold, Stephen Robinson, Scott Brown linked to replace Lee Johnson

Former boss Neil Lennon is interested in a return to Hibernian as the Easter Road club search for a new manager.

Several names have been linked to the job as the club assess options after sacking Lee Johnson on Sunday following their 3-2 home loss to Livingston.

Club legend David Gray is in interim charge, with Hibernian bottom of the Scottish Premiership, without a league win this season.

Lennon is keen on a return to management – after being sacked by Cypriots Omonia Nicosia last year – and enjoyed a successful first stint in Leith between 2016 and 2019, winning the Championship before sealing European football the next season.

“It’s a club I’ve worked at before, I had a great couple of seasons there,” he said to Sky Sports when asked about a potential return to Hibs.

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Highlights of Johnson’s last match as Hibs boss as the Easter Road side lost 3-2 to Livingston in the Scottish Premiership

“It’s an attractive prospect for a lot of applicants. We’ll see. Watch this space. I’d be interested in a conversation, that’s for sure.

“The board have put a lot of investment into the playing side and the stadium as well. It’s a club that hasn’t started the season so well but there’s huge potential there.

“There’s going to be a lot of candidates, you look at the likes of Derek McInnes, Steve Robinson and Malky Mackay, all very good managers in the league. There will be a host of people wanting that job.”

Who else could replace Johnson?

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Former Hibernian player Stuart Lovell assesses Lee Johnson’s departure and the candidates linked with taking over at Easter Road

Former Hibernian player Stuart Lovell assesses who could take over from Lee Johnson:

“I don’t think it’s in David Gray’s make up to become a manager, at least not yet. I don’t think he would be on the shortlist.

Derek McInnes has had a very strong start to the season with Kilmarnock and has an excellent record with his previous clubs, particularly Aberdeen and St Johnstone. He’s been mentioned albeit it would cost, I imagine, quite a lot of money to get him out of Rugby Park and over to Edinburgh.

LARGS, SCOTLAND - JUNE 29: Derek McInnes during a Kilmarnock training session at Sportscotland National Sports Centre, on June 29, 2023, in Largs, Scotland. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)
Kilmarnock boss Derek McInnes has enjoyed wins over Rangers and Celtic this season

“You’re talking anywhere between £350k to £500k for a change in manager and that is a lot of money coming out of the football budget.

Stephen Robinson has started the season really well and made great strides at St Mirren. I’m sure his name will be put in the conversation.

Stephen Robinson’s St Mirren are level on points with leaders Celtic in the Scottish Premiership

Neil Lennon was a real fans’ favourite at Easter Road. His side and the style of play was very pleasing to supporters. I’m not sure whether fans necessarily want to go back over old ground but he certainly would be welcomed by a lot of the support because of what they experienced in the past.

“Then could there be someone like Scott Brown, who has been managing in England with Fleetwood Town. Would he be someone to interest the board or would they be looking further afield?

“Hibs took a real punt on Tony Mowbray way back when he was an unproven manager and did a fantastic job. They may be looking at a blueprint of a younger manager, someone who hasn’t had an opportunity, but will implement a style of play and coach players, because this group really needs that.”

Former Australia manager Graham Arnold is also understood to be keen on the job

He took Australia to the last 16 of the World Cup in Qatar, beating Denmark and Tunisia along the way. They were eventually knocked out by winners Argentina – losing 2-1.

Hibernian’s upcoming fixtures

  • Aug 31: Aston Villa (a) – Conference League play-off second-leg
  • Sept 3: Aberdeen (a) – Scottish Premiership
  • Sept 16: Kilmarnock (a) – Scottish Premiership
  • Sept 23: St Johnstone (h) – Scottish Premiership
  • Sept 27: St Mirren (h) – League Cup quarter-final
  • Sept 30: Dundee (h) – Scottish Premiership
  • Oct 7: Hearts (a) – Scottish Premiership

Johnson had hoped board would stick by him

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Johnson made an awkward interview exit when he was asked whether he would still be manager next week

Following Saturday’s home defeat to Livingston, Johnson had hoped the Hibs board would stand by him despite losing their opening three Scottish Premiership games.

He told Sky Sports: “I genuinely do apologise because I didn’t want to start like this. I was full of beans – I still am – going into the season and this has caught us out a little bit.

“I hope they [the board] stick with me, I really do, because I want to be here. I’d never throw the towel in. And I understand there will be fans calling for my head. But I genuinely believe that we’ll do it. I think we’ve got a good squad, I think we’ve had a few issues – and we’ve got to tidy up our defensive stuff.

“It’s unacceptable, I understand that. I’m okay to take responsibility for that knowing I still have belief in the squad. I think the squad still believe in us and what we’re doing and are as frustrated as anybody.

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Johnson had hoped to remain in charge at Easter Road after the defeat against Livingston

“I can understand the scrutiny. I have been here before. It’s not nice. There’s a human there as well and sometimes people forget that. We work extremely hard and I just want the positivity in the football club. That focus is on me and I’d rather it was on me than the players.

“It’s small margins and I honestly believe if we see out 10 minutes at 1-1 our momentum takes the game back. I’m disappointed because I love it here and I believe in us. But at the same time I’ve experienced this before in my career.”