Hibernian’s new director of football Brian McDermott says he’s happy to be taking on “an exciting project” as he takes on the task of helping the Easter Road club progress on and off the pitch.
McDermott was appointed to the newly-created role on Thursday and will have responsibility for a number of areas, including recruitment for Lee Johnson’s first team.
The 62-year-old, who has previously managed Reading and Leeds, and worked as a scout for Arsenal and Celtic, brings a wealth of experience to the Leith club and says his primary role at Hibs will be “to help people”.
McDermott came through what he called “a long and tough interview process” to land the role and now looks forward to applying his expertise where it is needed to deliver success.
“Other people will have their opinion on what success looks like and that’s for them but for me I want to be there for people,” he said.
“I think the recruitment side of the job obviously is important and we’ll try to recruit the best that we can for what the boss wants. I’ll be very much involved in that with the recruitment staff that we’ve got already. I’ll be involved in the academy in trying to help the academy staff and players do their stuff, and there’s the women’s side of the football. I watched them last night.
“It’s an eclectic mix. I’ve worked with a fantastic director of football at Reading in Nick Hammond for many, many years so I know how the role works and it’s something I’m really looking forward to.”
Asked what attracted him to the vacancy, McDermott said that he already knew the club and was impressed by its links to the surrounding community but was also familiar with many of the key people involved.
“Obviously you look at the staff,” he said. “I knew the manager and I had met Ben (chief executive Ben Kensell) and Ian (director Ian Gordon) from when the club were recruiting.
“I gravitated towards Ian as far as the recruitment was concerned and we’re just going to have a chat now and talk about players. I can do that all day.
“You just look at the whole club. I know Steve Kean, he was at Reading when I was there a long time ago.
“I know the people and for me football clubs are about people. There are good people at this football club.”
Arguably the most visible part of McDermott’s role will be in helping identify and sign players to improve the first team. He believes he is already familiar with the demands of the Scottish game from working for the current Premiership champions.
“I’ve scouted in this country many, many times,” he said. “I’ve scouted at Hibs and watched a Hibs v Hearts game.
“I was at Celtic and I did a lot of video scouting after Covid. I was at Arsenal for a long time, looking at players all over the world and then I scouted for Celtic watching all the players that you see playing for them now. And there’s some good players that they didn’t get as well that they couldn’t get over the line.
“I know this market really well and I know this country and I did it quietly. I spoke to the lead guy at Celtic yesterday and said ‘I hope you don’t mind me mentioning Celtic’ because I did it.
“I know how it works in this country as far as scouting is concerned.”
The Englishman says his aim is to get involved and lend support wherever it is needed to drive the club towards its goals and those goals are clear.
“Our purpose is to win,” he added. “But with a winning purpose you have to have a process and the boss has put in a process. I’m going to try and help with certain processes.
“That will be ‘Can I help a bit with the academy? Can I help with recruitment? Can I make one or two suggestions on whatever it is?’ All the processes that can lead to a winning outcome. That’s what we’re looking to do.
“We were eighth last year and this year it will be better. Bit by bit we have to keep improving to finally get to where we need to get to.”
Lee Johnson: It was important I felt comfortable with the appointment
For Hibs manager Lee Johnson, the appointment is one that can provide him with support and he said that being involved in the selection had helped to put him at ease.
“I was very happy to be involved in the process at different stages,” he said. “Initially I was just asked to browse over some candidates, and there were some really strong candidates, because I’ve got a lot of contacts in the game, particularly down in England.
“Open debate narrows a long list to a short list. The first set of interviews were conducted by the board and Ian Gordon, then there were interviews with myself and Malcolm McPherson the chairman, chief executive Ben Kensell and Ian.
“That was brilliant for me. It was really important that whoever got the job I was comfortable with because you’ve got to remember it wasn’t the initial plan when I walked through the door.
“But at the same time, I’m the same as everybody else and I want Hibs to be successful and I want to be successful with Hibs. And for sure there is a role there that is required to be filled by the right person.”
Johnson now hopes that with a good structure in place, his focus can remain fully on games, with a familiar and supportive figure to exchange ideas with.
“I’m delighted Brian got the job,” he said. “I’ve known him a long time from playing against his teams, we’ve discussed many things football related and not in the past, which is good.
“So it’s interesting to see how we work now in a little quartet of Ian, Ben, myself and Brian. I feel it’s personally good for me.
“It gives me check and balance, a sounding board and allows me more time to focus on the grass when there’s been a lot of things off the grass structurally and having a man of Brian’s experience and also personal qualities is very important.
“Anyone who comes into our structure has to add that value in terms of personality and I know Brian will do that.”