Rod Petrie, the Easter Road chairman, began yet another search for a new manager last night, with Kenny Shiels and Peter Grant immediately linked with the vacancy last night.
Fenlon resigned after almost two turbulent years best remembered for losing the 2012 Scottish Cup final 5-1 to Hearts and crashing out of this season's Uefa Cup by a 9-0 aggregate score to Malmo. Fenlon reached two cup finals, got an outstanding season out of Leigh Griffiths and improved the club's scouting system, but there was too little evidence of on-field progress and supporters had decided that enough was enough. Around 200 protested outside Easter Road on Wednesday after Hearts team beat Hibs for the second time this season.
Unusually Fenlon went ahead with a pre-arranged press conference only around an hour after his departure was confirmed by the club yesterday afternoon. The 44-year-old Irishman took training without telling the players he had resolved to leave. The assistant manager he brought to the club, Jimmy Nicholl, tried to talk the former Bohemians and Shelbourne manager out of it but Fenlon insisted he would definitely leave. He denied having succumbed to fans' and media pressure after the derby, but refused to go into detail about what had been discussed with Petrie.
Shiels knows Petrie from the time his son, Dean, spent at Hibs. Nicholl was his assistant at Kilmarnock and two of the players he brought to that club, Paul Heffernan and Michael Nelson, are at Easter Road. Shiels is eager to get back to work having been sacked by Kilmarnock in June. Grant is also likely to be of real interest to the Hibs' board. The former Norwich City manager had spells as a coach at Birmingham City, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest but is available and would be tempted by the job. Bookmakers are also offering prices for Nicholl, Tony Mowbray and Ian Murray of Dumbarton. Nicholl will take the team for tomorrow's game at Motherwell and Hibs may give themselves some breathing space by delaying an appointment until after this month's international break.
An emotional Fenlon said that last weekend's 2-0 defeat by Aberdeen had convinced him that he could no longer take Hibs forward. "It was nothing to do under pressure, I just think it was the right thing to do," he said. "I think, looking at it, I asked how I could take the club forward? I tried to do it on the pitch and believe we have taken things forward. Now, it is the right time to let someone else have a go because this is a good place with good football players.
"A lot of the anger is directed at me, rightly so because I'm at the helm, and I can understand the frustration of the supporters. It is time to change that by taking myself out of the equation. I spoke to the chairman on Thursday; we had a conversation and I made my mind up. In the last 24 hours, it was a case of how we do it and when we do it. It was horrible, but football is horrible sometimes.
"There is definitely no anger. I feel privileged to have had the job. The emotion is disappointment. It's sad I had to do that to bring the club on but we have taken it to a point where it needs someone else to go on, and taking myself out the equation will help. The other night [the protests] came into my thinking a little bit, but from a football point of view, the other night didn't come into it. I know how disappointed people were and I was disappointed, but I thought we played well. The Aberdeen game was more disappointing the Hearts game in relation to performance. Would I have resigned if we had beaten Hearts? I think so. I asked to meet the chairman on Tuesday and I think my mind was made up at that stage. Beating Hearts wouldn't have changed my mind. I'm not being blase. The performance at the start was as good as since I've been here. My only regret is that we didn't finish in style. It would have been a nice way to go."
Meanwhile Liam Craig,
the Hibs midfielder, was yesterday subject of a notice of complaint for kicking Ryan Stevenson in the face during the derby. He has until 3pm
on Monday to either accept a two-game suspension or agree to a hearing next Thursday.