There are crucial games in every football season with our next fixture away to Aberdeen on Saturday falling into this category. After the results from the weekend, it certainly isn’t pleasurable to see the club now sitting second from bottom of the SPL.
Although the players couldn’t be faulted for their commitment against Rangers, the harsh reality is that we have now suffered five defeats already at home this season. After a fairly low-key first half from both sides, I always felt whoever managed to get their noses in front would go on and take the three points. However, had Leigh Griffiths made more of the opportunity presented to him just before the interval, we may have taken something from the match.
There were signs of encouragement from this defeat as we managed to restrict Rangers to very few chances and, despite losing two goals, we showed a defensive stability that has been posted missing for the majority of the season.
There were spells from the game where we passed the ball with some composure and went looking to attack as opposed to sitting back and allowing our opponents to dictate play. I’m sure the players will take some confidence from this performance and look to push on.
It will take time for Pat Fenlon to assess his squad and the individuals he sees fit to make it into his starting 11 but I have been impressed by the manager’s assessment of the game with a strong work-ethic very much a high priority.
We must now look ahead to a match that holds huge significance for both Hibs and Aberdeen. We need be able to handle the pressure and secure victory against a side who are struggling for form themselves.
There is still a lot of football to be played and a number of teams remain in the mix but this is when the experienced members of the squad can assert their authority both in the changing-room and out on the pitch.
As my playing days drew to a close at Motherwell, I found myself involved in a basement battle. I can assure you it’s not a pleasant situation to be in but I discovered the perfect remedy in players such as Tommy Coyne, Owen Coyle and Eddie May who all had enormous pride in our quest to beat the drop. After the emotions I experienced on the very last day of the season when we managed to retain our top-flight status, I wouldn’t wish any footballer having to go through the severe strain of it all.
Football is about memories where you often reflect on what you have learned over the course of your career. In the final match of that particular season, we faced a Dunfermline side that had nothing much other than pride to play for – or so we thought. They came out the traps early, scrapped for every ball and gave us a real difficult match that we never envisaged having and had to battle for a 2-2 draw.
It just reinforces that you can’t take things for granted and you should approach every match in a professional manner.
The manager has asked for leadership to be shown by the players in the games that lie ahead. We need the squad to go and prove they have what it takes at Pittodrie on Saturday as I’m sure Craig Brown will be drumming it in to his players the importance of achieving the right result. I do think if we can keep a clean-sheet then we can travel back down to the Capital with a long overdue victory and a precious three points.
After Saturday’s trip north to the Granite City, we then face Dundee United on Christmas Eve before welcoming both Inverness and Hearts over a busy festive period.
We must start picking up points that can give us the confidence going into January and find a level of consistency that can haul us away from the precarious position we are currently in.