To be sitting in second place in the SPL after the despair from last year is a testament to the character of the players and management of Hibernian Football Club.
No matter what happens between now and the end of the season, there isn’t an individual who can take away the improvement and stability Pat Fenlon has instilled within the club.
As I said within last week’s piece, fixtures against sides who are struggling take on greater importance than against teams that are around the top end of the table. We once again emerged with another three points in a match where we were perhaps not at our best, but still possessed enough in the engine room to grind out a result. St Mirren put in an extremely good showing in the first half and we could consider ourselves fortunate to be going in all square at the break.
Saturday was a massive three points – make no mistake about it – but I think it is important to take note of a Hibs side that has been put together on a very limited budget and in a short space of time. I think the number of points we have managed to amass at this stage is simply a remarkable achievement by Pat Fenlon.
The squad he was left with at the tail end of last season was minimal, and to take 21 points from a possible 36 is a statistic the manager can be extremely proud of. Of course, there is still a lot of football to be played with the usual twists and turns along the way to be expected, but the progression shown on the park has been hugely encouraging.
Leigh Griffiths is once again the individual who will make all the headlines with his goals, but to single out one player would be unfair on his team-mates, whose contributions are proving just as influential, but the most impressive thing for me is that the players are a team and look comfortable playing alongside one another.
There are always influences elsewhere who will look to pick holes and faults in a side performing at the top of their game, but this is the fickle nature of both supporters and the media and is one aspect that will never change.
Most will have their own opinions on team selections, substitutions and formations, but the only thing that can strengthen a club’s position is by winning football matches. This, for the most part of the season, is something we have been able to achieve more than some would have envisaged. Resilience and determination have never been tactics of the game you can put down on paper but their importance cannot be underestimated.
Supporters across the country will always look for commitment before anything else – defenders to defend, midfielders to show creativity and win the battle in the middle of the park, and strikers to convert chances into goals.
“We hear managers coming out with stats on how many corner kicks their side had, or the possession this particular player had on the ball. However, making endless passes and having 25 shots on goal do not always constitute success. Putting the ball in the back of the net is the key to a successful side.
I appreciate that most like to see different styles of play, but I believe that even the greatest sides play to ensure they come out on top come full-time.
With the late draw Dundee United managed to salvage yesterday against Celtic, next weekend’s clash with United promises to be an entertaining match.
Peter Houston’s men are inconsistent at the moment but carry a threat we should be wary of. Gary Mackay-Steven is a hugely exciting prospect and one I would have liked to have seen at Easter Road. Here’s hoping we’re discussing yet another three points this time next week.