UNFORTUNATELY for Hibernian, they have Gordon Strachan on their side, but not in their side.

What would the Hibees give to have someone like a young Strachan lining up against Hearts in the derby today? There are several associations which spring to mind about Strachan - national manager, ex-Celtic boss, colourful TV pundit, Aberdeen, Manchester United and Leeds player, Scotland player with his leg cocked over an advertising barrier in Mexico - but his affection for Hibs tends not to be quite so widely publicised. The way things have been going lately he's maybe grateful for that.

Strachan was raised in the Muirhouse area of Edinburgh. These days he's occasionally to be found at the city's Silverknowes Golf Club, where he is an honorary member. In the 19th hole, the chat among some of his oldest pals often turns mournfully to the latest trials and tribulations for the Hibs.

Loading article content

"It would be a terrible loss to the people at the golf club I go to if Hibs were lost to the Premiership," he said. "They all go to the games. It would also be a body blow for the community. It's where I'm from. It would be a body blow for all of us there."

There has been some excited anticipation about the possible composition of the SPFL Championship next season, with Rangers and Hearts already included and the possibility of Hibs falling into it too. Strachan would take no pleasure from three of the country's five biggest clubs languishing below the top tier.

"I'm not being derogatory to other clubs, but it would be nice if somehow they could all maximise what they've got the same way as Aberdeen have done this season. We would all want Hibs and Hearts to do the same as Aberdeen. They had 40,000 down in Glasgow for the League Cup final. I was staying in a hotel in Glasgow that weekend and the place was full of Aberdeen fans. Hotels were full. It's great for everyone.

"It would be great to have Hibs, Hearts and Rangers all back to near their [normal] power. It would be great for all of us. I don't think we got 40,000 watching us at Aberdeen way back in our day. But I remember coming to Hampden years ago when Hibs played Livingston in the League Cup final [in 2004, when Hibs took 37,000 supporters but lost the match]. I went to Hampden that day with another Hibs fan and my wife. There was some crowd. Obviously you can't get that crowd every week because just don't have the finances to do it every week."

Because they were the club where he started his senior career Strachan would also be "rooting" for Dundee in the Championship next season (that's if they are not promoted in the next few weeks, of course).

Rangers, Hearts, Hibs, Dundee: the second tier could be ferociously competitive given that only one club is certain to be promoted. "You do feel for managers [in those circumstances]. But the stress at the top, or the excitement, is far more enjoyable than that stuff down at the bottom, trust me.

"I think the introduction of the Premiership play-offs has kept everything alive. There is a fight for second and third in the Championship and five teams involved at the bottom of the Premiership. I'm sure the five managers involved will be saying 'what a rotten idea this is' but for everyone else it has been great. Crowds are up and it's been good: whoever made that one up, it has been a good one."

One last point about Strachan and Hibs: did he ever have the chance to manage them? "Don't ask me about the Hibs job and I won't tell you a lie!" Decode that and it sounds like a yes. "But I did get offered the Dundee United job a long time ago, by Jim McLean. I think I was leaving Leeds United at the time [in 1995, he became Coventry City assistant manager instead]. But, no, I couldn't have taken it. Jim would have killed me …"