Despite the great deal of promise shown from our newest recruits in the matches against both Kilmarnock and Aberdeen, my biggest fear going into yesterday’s fixture with Celtic was how they would fare against a better calibre of opposition.
We can’t fail to acknowledge the tremendous run our opponents have been on recently – they are capable of dismantling teams with such ease. Unfortunately, we were taught a harsh lesson surrendering our biggest home defeat since 1985.
That aside, this was still a very disjointed performance from Hibs despite starting the match brightly and showing some good ball retention. But to Celtic’s credit, they showed little mercy and punished us due to some costly errors and individual mistakes. Although the new players have improved the style of football now being exhibited, they haven’t played consistently against this level of skill and ability they came face-to-face with on Sunday. However, the quicker we erase this result from the system the better. As painful as it was, I fully understand creating a winning mentality at the club isn’t a procedure that will transpire overnight. But we can’t afford to dwell on this performance as we have a huge game on Wednesday against Motherwell at Fir Park. After this weekend’s results, the Steelmen will have their sights on Champions League football and this will prove to be a massive incentive for all concerned in Lanarkshire. This will inevitably ensure we have a huge task on our hands but we must find the inner strength and rise to the occasion.
Building a new team is never an easy task to undertake, even more so when the prospect of relegation is staring you in the face. There has been a losing mentality stretching the length of the corridors at Easter Road for quite some time now and this is one of the main challenges the manager must address. In my opinion, this can only be rectified by putting enough points together which will see us retain our SPL status come the end of the season. Should this goal be achieved, it’s back to the drawing board over the summer period and the manager can start afresh and stamp his authority on the playing staff.
One concern that is playing on my mind is the shortage of chances being created in open play. Questions are always posed in the direction of the strikers when something like this is raised, however, the individuals up top need service to provide any sort of goal threat in the final third of the park, especially from wide areas, and for me, this just isn’t happening enough at this moment in time. Sunday’s defeat to Celtic proved we have still yet to find that balance between stopping the rot at the back whilst being able to dispatch a few goals of our own. It’s such a shame to find ourselves in this position with the strikers we have on our books. The ability to put defenders under pressure and create chances is something the players in this area have in their lockers which is why this aspect is proving to be so frustrating.
As the split of the league edges ever closer, the need for a couple of victories is becoming paramount. It has been over a month now since our victory at East End Park which lifted us four points clear of our rivals, yet we remain joint-bottom of the table and only ahead by a superior goal difference. I feel this week could make or break our season – we have an opportunity to put some distance between ourselves and Dunfermline. The games are arriving thick and fast with little time to reflect on previous performances but everyone at the club is fully aware of the task in hand. I believe the recent application from the squad has been of a much higher standard but we must make the hard work count with victories out on the pitch where the players should play each game as if it was their last. This is an anxious time for us all but we must have the faith and belief we can survive this scare.