Hibs look for new life after Mowbray

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Hibernian supporters have got used to seeing their talent lured to a bigger stage over many years. Joe Baker succumbed to the glamour of Italy, Peter Marinello to the cheesy presenter's role on Top Of The Pops that was possible only when he moved to Arsenal, and John Collins was off once a £1 million cheque was waved by Celtic.

But it is the exit of a man who had no connection with Easter Road until he turned up in near- anonymity 28 months ago that is now shaking fans to the core. Tony Mowbray's departure to West Bromwich Albion has robbed Hibernian of a man who has become a cult hero after creating the most stylish and attractive side in the Scottish Premier League.

Hibernian have no money. Albion do. The Championship side are able to promise their new manager £6m to spend. Yet even if Mowbray becomes a successful manager in England one day, he is unlikely to forget the youthful team who have sparked such imagination that season-ticket sales soared at Easter Road as he led them to third- and fourth-place finishes in the SPL.

That such a move should take place just two days before the derby at home to Heart of Midlothian only heightens Hiber-nian sadness. When Mowbray gathered his youngsters to tell them he was heading to the Midlands, there were tears.

However, a man who took the road from Easter Road three decades ago, Peter Cormack, believes that Mowbray's legacy will live on in the players, two of whom, Scott Brown and Steven Whittaker, were on the bench last week in Kiev for Scotland's game with Ukraine.

"The Hibernian job came along at just the right time for Tony Mowbray, because they had a good crop of youngsters coming through and he had the skills to get the best out of them," said Cormack, who twice won the Uefa Cup with Liverpool.

"Working under Joe Royle at Ipswich, first as a player, then as a coach, Tony got a great schooling. I would say he is certainly Hibernian's greatest manager of recent years and has all the attri-butes to become a great manager. Tony has never hidden the fact that he wants to be a manager in England. Anybody with any ambition would be exactly the same, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as you do a good job while you are up here."

"We had a lump in our throat when Tony told us," said Hibernian's captain, Kevin Thomson. "What makes it harder is that he really improved us as players. We have things to achieve here and I hope we get the right result for Tony in the derby."