The players face the adversity that comes with back-to-back defeats where the loss of six goals in 180 minutes does not paint a happy picture at this moment in time. I am sure Motherwell will have departed Easter Road on Saturday evening believing they had got their revenge for the manner in which we achieved our victory at Fir Park in October.
I am sure even Stuart McCall would have felt a victory was out of their grasp after Eoin Doyle had struck his second of the match after 55 minutes and probably feared the worst for his side. However, the Motherwell players displayed a belief that they could snatch something and the character shown to come from two goals down will have pleased McCall the most.
To concede three goals and lose a match where we were in total command is very difficult to accept. Perhaps our early-season heroics are now beginning to catch up on one or two individuals and that is something that Pat Fenlon will need to monitor. Achieving victories early on in the season have certainly helped and lifted the mood around Easter Road, but they by no means offer a guarantee to a successful season.
We are now entering into a busy schedule over the next couple of weeks with four fixtures in the space of just 12 days. It is imperative we stop the rot on Sunday at Kilmarnock and avoid defeat which can go some way to restoring the players’ confidence.
In the cold light of day we have to be realistic in taking the club forward. Motherwell, for example, have shown in the past couple of seasons they are a very capable unit with experienced proven Premier League players. We all want to see the club improve but doing so without any major investment means it can only be achieved in small steps.
If I am being true to myself, I have to admit I have been quite surprised with the tally of points collected so far this campaign with a very inexperienced set of players. In making sure the wheels don’t come off, the manager will be looking around the changing room to identify the characters who possess that mental toughness to get us back on track.
In many conversations over the years with experienced campaigners and management teams, one thought that has always stuck in my mind was the advice given to me that it’s not always about winning football matches that counts, it’s simply finding the ability to avoid defeat. We have now suffered our seventh league defeat of the season and had we managed to replace these with a couple of draws, we would be in a much better position.
The manager will still be learning about one or two individuals of the squad and there is no better time to find out about the characters you have when the chips are down and results aren’t going our way. In any dressing room you hope to have determined pros who have the desire to win and when victories aren’t being achieved, players have the courage to be upfront about the situation.
No matter what is said within the group, work-rate is not enough to build a successful side. Natural ability is the most important cog and, without it, teams will struggle over the course of a season. Nobody will need to remind the players what is acceptable for a club like Hibs and they will be fully aware that things need to improve dramatically if we are to build another winning sequence. Fortunately we have found the ability to get back on track this season after suffering defeats so there is hope we can achieve a positive result at the weekend.
I cannot emphasise the importance of the busy schedule we have coming up. The league is throwing up all sorts of surprises at the moment and a couple of defeats can push you further down the table. However, I am confident we can erase the past couple of weeks from memory and move on to better things.