One aspect of the game every manager is looking to find from his players is consistency.
Unfortunately, this Hibs side continues to blow hot and cold when it comes to individual and team performances out on the pitch. The comprehensive defeat last Monday night to St Johnstone was a wake-up call for everyone after such a disappointing showing from the men in green and white.
We were simply torn apart by St Johnstone at Easter Road and could have little complaint regarding the final outcome. I don’t think even the most ardent of Hibs fans held much hope ahead of our trip to face St Mirren on Saturday, but to the players’ credit, they delivered three points when it perhaps wasn’t expected.
I think one of the greatest disappointments to emerge from the St Johnstone match was the lack of discipline throughout the 90 minutes. This certainly hasn’t been an issue that has caused too much concern this season but it does underline the necessity for more experience within the current squad. Of course even the greatest clubs in world football suffer from a dip in form but what separates those on top of their game from the ordinary, is their ability to respond almost immediately.
All footballers want to get back on the park as soon as possible after a heavy defeat and rectify the mistakes that were made. Moping around the training ground isn’t going to erase that disappointment and getting back into a competitive arena is where you can focus on what you do best and this frustration can be overcome.
You cannot allow disappointing results to fester because losing can all too often become a habit difficult to shake. The manager possesses enough experience to draw a line under this defeat and so it proved at the weekend in Paisley where we secured a much-needed victory. The players reacted to such criticism in the correct manner as you can do no more than win the next fixture. St Mirren have been one of the more consistent sides in the SPL lately, not to mention their League Cup heroics against Celtic towards the end of last month. Some pride has been restored in what was largely a tough week for the club but Pat Fenlon will have warned his players that performances must improve in the coming weeks.
The one motivational tool the manager does have in his favour is the Scottish Cup tie against Kilmarnock in just under two weeks which I am sure everyone will want to be part of.
The SPL is too tight to call with so many fixtures being determined by the team who shows the most desire and makes the least mistakes on the day. With such little investment across the board, this is one aspect I believe we are just going to have to get used to. With so many sides unable to find a winning formula, second place in the league is very much up for grabs. The prize of finishing as runners-up is such an attractive proposition for the club and a target we cannot say has been realistic for well in advance of 20 years.
Leigh Griffiths is once again the centre of attention and his penalty at St Mirren took his toll to 17 for the season. I have every confidence he will score more than 20 before the season draws to a close. It would appear he is carrying the team at the moment in the final third and he deserves enormous praise for his contributions and the energy he brings to the team.
We are entering such an important stage of the season where we want to be fighting on all fronts between now and May. We face a tricky match at Tannadice on Sunday against a Dundee United side who, despite their heavy defeat to Celtic, have been buoyed by the appointment of Jackie McNamara. Our recent forays into Tayside haven’t seen the team come away with too many victories but this is where we must find that level of consistency that can take us clear of the surrounding pack.