Hibernian: Alan Stubbs hungry for Championship title next term

Hibs failed to bounce straight back up to the Premiership after last season's relegation
Hibs failed to bounce straight back up to the Premiership after last season's relegation

Manager Alan Stubbs is determined to take Hibernian back to the Premiership next season after missing out via the play-offs.

And he hopes to retain as many of his first-team players as possible for another Championship campaign.

"We want to take these games out of the equation and go up automatically," he told BBC Scotland after a 2-1 semi-final aggregate loss to Rangers.

"I desperately wanted to go up and this makes me even hungrier."

Former Everton and Celtic defender Stubbs was given his first managerial post last summer following the Edinburgh club's relegation.

And he steered his side to second place behind runaway champions Hearts.

But his debut season ended at the first play-off hurdle, with a 1-0 home win not enough after Wednesday's loss at Ibrox.

Describing himself as a "work in progress", he added: "It's been a big learning curve and this season will make me better."

Jason Cummings scored a late winner for Hibernian at Easter Road
It took Hibs until the 94th minute of the second leg to score against Rangers

With several players soon to be out of contract, including captain Liam Craig, Fraser Fyvie, Scott Robertson, Lewis Stevenson and Liam Fontaine, Stubbs will begin negotiations and the search for new talent.

"We'll speak about it in the early part of next week," he revealed.

"I'd like to keep them all. But there's the reality of it, we'll sit down and see where we go.

"I want to build a team, not break one up."

Hibs endured two frustrating play-off games against Rangers, who they had beaten three times on league duty, dominating possession in both legs but failing to create much in the way of meaningful chances.

Jason Cummings finally made the breakthrough but his shot came deep into stoppage time.

"I think we had enough opportunities to take the game further than it went," said Stubbs.

"Over the two legs, we've had chances to win the tie and I don't think anyone would have argued if we'd gone through.

"But, it wasn't too be. We needed to score earlier than we did.

"Give credit to Rangers. They dug in and defended for 90 minutes more or less.

"We were fantastic in the first 25 minutes but it's virtually impossible to maintain that.

"I can't criticise the players. They are unlucky not to be in the final stages, they've come so close."

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