Calderwood sees chance for Hibs to break the Old Firm's monopoly

New manager believes financial constraints are creating more level playing field in Scottish football

New Hibernian manager Colin Calderwood claims the club must have ambitions to challenge the Old Firm despite the Glasgow clubs' stranglehold on the Scottish game.

Calderwood refused to look too far beyond Saturday's Scottish Premier League match at Aberdeen after a "whirlwind" few days, during which the club first made contact with him on Friday before stepping up talks on Sunday, resulting in a three-year contract being signed on Monday.

However, he saw no harm in setting lofty long-term ambitions, despite both Celtic and Rangers going into Sunday's Old Firm derby with perfect records in the SPL after eight games.

Only Hearts have split the Old Firm in the last 15 seasons and Hibernian have not finished in the top two since 1975, but Calderwood feels the waning financial power of the big two could open the door for a sustained challenge.

"We have got to get as close as we can to the top two and the ultimate achievement is to challenge them," Calderwood said.

"It has been done before, some people said it would never get done again. But if you don't have some ambition towards that... I think we have got to take it step by step and get there. With the financial situation, you never know. There is an evening out in football."

Calderwood's immediate goal is to help steady Hibernian's season, although the team did claim only their second win on Saturday when they beat Kilmarnock 2-1 at Easter Road under the stewardship of coaches Alistair Stevenson and Gareth Evans.

Hibernian have difficult away games against Aberdeen and Dundee United before former Northampton and Nottingham Forest manager Calderwood experiences his first Edinburgh derby at Easter Road.

"We have got to set our desire to be slightly higher than where we are at the minute," Calderwood said.

"But we give the fans what they want in terms of success – there are trophies to be won and there is a position in the league that they would term successful and we'll get as close as we can to that."

The Hibernian chairman, Rod Petrie, admitted that Calderwood's knowledge of players in England, where he has worked in all four divisions, had been a key factor in him being handed the role. And Petrie responded defiantly when asked whether his new manager would have funds available to buy players in January.

"Over the last six years, each year we have added to the budget and spent slightly more than we spent the year before," Petrie said. "Our budget is competitive outside of the top two. It's up to us to get as much success as we can with the budget we have available."

At Newcastle, the managing director, Derek Llambias, has paid tribute to Calderwood for the role he played in the club's return to the Premier League.

The Scot, who joined the club as a coach in February last year and, more recently, has been working as manager Chris Hughton's assistant, left Tyneside admitting the opportunity to manage in the Scottish Premier League was simply too good to turn down.

Llambias said: "The part Colin played in our recent success should not be underestimated. He is a first-class professional and was very popular amongst the players and staff.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for him to manage a big club in Scotland. He has had success as a manager before and I'm sure he will do so again.

"Along with everyone else connected with Newcastle United, I wish Colin the very best of luck with Hibernian and in the rest of his career."

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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