Ron Gordon and Ben Kensell’s Hibs sales pitch that left Shaun Maloney unable to say no

Shaun Maloney was unveiled on Monday night as the new manager of Hibernian at the club’s training center. (Photo by Mark Scates / SNS Group)

But as he trades Kevin de Bruyne for Kevin Nisbet, there is no doubt in Shaun Maloney’s mind that he made the right decision to quit his coaching role with Belgium to become the new manager of Hibernian.

While the 38-year-old admits that it was not easy to tell Belgian head coach Roberto Martinez that he was quitting his assistant job, he found himself unable to resist in the manner of the challenge brought to him by Hibs owner Ron Gordon and general manager Ben Kensell.

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“I had discussions very early last week with the owner and the CEO, especially the CEO to start with,” said Maloney, who signed a three-and-a-half-year contract.

Shaun Maloney in action for Celtic during a game against Hearts at Tynecastle in 2010. (Photo by Bill Murray / SNS Group)

“These discussions were really open and honest about where the club is going, the vision they have.

“It was the first meetings with these two that were so positive, and then when I finally met the owner I had a very positive feeling about the club.

“Then I obviously knew the support and the club, but when I started to dig a little deeper, it started to become a challenge that I couldn’t refuse.

“I had an amazing job and a brilliant manager at Roberto, so there was no pressure from me (to become a manager).

Shaun Maloney celebrates after playing for Wigan Athletic in their stunning FA Cup Final victory over Manchester City at Wembley in 2013. (Photo by Alex Livesey / Getty Images)

“But when the opportunity arose to speak to Hibs, I know the size of the club, I know the intensity of the support, and I just thought it would be a really positive thing to start chatting.

“Then from there the feelings grew and it was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down. Yes, it was a difficult conversation with Roberto. Not so much on his side – it was just a difficult discussion because I really enjoyed working with the Belgian players and I really enjoyed working with the staff.

“So I was well aware of what I was giving up. But, as far as his side is concerned, no, the opposite. He was in the know throughout the process. I updated it as much as I could and as often as possible.

“He made the whole process very, very easy and always gave his advice when I asked for it. Even last night and today he was just the man I know he is – a really good person. I appreciate this and will always be grateful for it.

A silverware serial winner in his 10 two-stint seasons at Celtic, Maloney also enjoyed success in England where he was part of Wigan’s 2013 FA Cup winning team under Martinez.

Since becoming a coach, first with the Celtic development team, he has been a diligent student of his craft until he obtained a master’s degree from the Johann Cruyff academy in the Netherlands.

Maloney has appointed former Hibs captain Gary Caldwell, who most recently worked as loan manager for Manchester City, as his assistant.

“A big credit to Manchester City for letting us have Gary because I know he’s very popular there,” said Maloney. “It was Gary at the start of this process who praised Hibs and the city, so I appreciate Manchester City for letting us have him so quickly.

“Valerio came in. He’s a really, really enthusiastic coach. He had different experiences. He arrived from Rome a few days ago to prepare for this.

“I met Valerio at Cruyff’s training class and we had very similar training ideas and style of play. Sometimes on these courses you click and I am very lucky to have made a good friend and someone I respect professionally.

“I was really happy that he had so many different experiences for him to come in, having worked with so many different players from different backgrounds. Valerio will be vital to the backstage team.

“Then Brian has a lot of experience working here for a long, long time. He’s going to play a big part, and they’re all going to play a big part in what we’re trying to achieve. “

Maloney will also retain coach and former skipper David Gray and goalkeeper coach Craig Samson, who took charge of Hibs in the 2-1 loss to Celtic in the Premier Sports Cup final at Hampden Sunday.

Winning trophies is integral to Maloney’s vision for Hibs, while in the immediate term he still believes another third place in the league isn’t going beyond them.

“What has been shown nationally is that there are other teams that have recently won cups in Scotland,” he said.

“I think that’s something we definitely have to give ourselves the best chance to do.

“In the short term we have the home game against Aberdeen on Wednesday, but we have to try to push as hard as possible to make that top four.

“We are currently seventh and there are other teams who have the same goals. But we have to aim for fourth place with the talent that we have in the team. And if we get there, we have to push for third place.

“And in the long term, talking to the owner and the CEO and doing my own homework, if we can get to these places, I would really like to see if we can qualify for the European competition (group stage). This has to be one of the club’s long term goals.

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