Thursday 25 April 2019

Quitting Hibs is the right decision – Fenlon

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

PAT FENLON has resigned as manager of Hibernian after less than two years in charge of the Scottish Premier League side.

The Dubliner had come under mounting pressure in the aftermath of a bruising League Cup quarter-final defeat to local rivals Hearts on Wednesday.

Indeed, the story of his struggles in Edinburgh could be told through the prism of his battles with Hearts.

Fenlon inherited a dire situation when he took over and succeeded in his initial brief of steering the club away from relegation trouble. Progress to the Scottish Cup final was a bonus but a 5-1 hammering at the hand of Hearts checked his momentum.

After a flying start to his only full campaign in charge, their league form trailed away at the midpoint of last season and Hibs ended up in the bottom six. The glimmer of hope was a cup success over Hearts on the way to booking another final trip which ended with a more credible display in defeat to Celtic.

However, this season kicked off with European humiliation at the hands of Malmo, a 9-0 reverse over two legs, which left Fenlon on the brink. An early league defeat to Hearts, who were docked points before the start of the campaign due to their perilous financial position, heaped further scrutiny on the ex-Shels, Bohs and Derry manager and this week's reverse was the final straw.

Hibernian sit seventh in the SPL table on 15 points, five behind second placed Aberdeen. "I've been privileged to manage this fantastic football club and I really hopes it does kick on now," said Fenlon, who departs with a 35pc win record during his tenure.

"It is a difficult decision for me, but it is the right decision.

Chairman Rod Petrie praised the outgoing boss. "Pat arrived when we were at a very low point almost two years ago, and he has worked tirelessly to bring about improvement since his first day," he said. "He has taken us to two Scottish Cup finals in successive seasons, and in his first full season in charge improved our league standing by 18 points and four places.

"He has assembled a squad of talented players, but feels that he should now hand over the reins. We wish Pat every success in the future, and thank him for all of his efforts."

Fenlon's first task at Hibs was to chop down a large squad and he worked under budgetary constraints during his time in charge, although the club did splash out £200,000 in the summer to sign James Collins from Swindon. He failed to make the same impact as Leigh Griffiths, who starred in his two seasons on loan from Wolves.

The 44-year-old is expected to take time to consider his next move but his availability will inevitably turn heads in League of Ireland circles as the winter managerial merry-go-round gathers pace.

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