Hibs star Paul Hanlon believes events of the past week have provided proof aplenty the old football maxim of winning teams getting all the luck while those struggling get none is entirely true.
There was Hanlon and his Easter Road team-mates halfway to a much-needed victory over Motherwell when a small electrical fire at Fir Park caused the match to be abandoned.
Less than 24 hours later, SPL champions and leaders Rangers enjoyed the benefit of an own goal and a controversial penalty decision as they clocked up a win over Dunfermline to keep arch-rivals Celtic at arm’s length.
However, that pivotal moment at Ibrox when Sone Aluko went down under the challenge of Pars defender Martin Hardie came at a price for Ally McCoist’s team with the winger failing in a bid to overcome a two-match ban imposed for diving.
Consequently, the former Aberdeen star will sit out tomorrow’s lunchtime clash between Hibs and Rangers, a match in which Hanlon has his fingers crossed Lady Luck will shine a little more brightly on the Edinburgh club than on their visitors.
The Scotland Under-21 captain said: “People say that when things are going well you get all the luck and when the going is tough nothing goes your way. It certainly seemed that way last weekend.
“Of course it was only half-time at Motherwell when the game was called off so you can’t say for sure that we’d have gone on to win the game, but we were a goal up and happy with our performance.
“We were all feeling confident so the changing room was very disappointed when we heard the news that the second half wouldn’t be going ahead.”
The mood of the Hibs players wasn’t helped any the next day when Inverness Caley’s win over St Mirren saw them slip another place down the SPL table, leaving them a single point off bottom place.
Hanlon said: “We were very disappointed our game had gone off, but it was made worse by the other results the next day. We’d far rather have points on the board than a game in hand.
“There’s nothing we can do about it, though. We just have to concentrate on improving our performances and getting up the table.
“While everything seemed to conspire against us I don’t think you can rely on luck, you have to try to play to the best of your ability and hopefully earn that wee rub of the green.”
The trip to Lanarkshire was, of course, Pat Fenlon’s first match in charge of Hibs and despite the frustration of what happened, Hanlon believes the new manager liked what he saw in those 45 minutes.
He added: “When you go into a new job you want it to get underway as quickly as possible so he’d have been gutted the game didn’t get to a finish.
“Before the match he had been really good, talking to us, getting us all up for it and getting us into a positive frame of mind.
“It seemed to pay off first half, and afterwards he told us we had played to a standard he knows we can get to.
“We’d not really put a foot wrong, but now it is up to ourselves to keep those standards up and, hopefully, improve our results.”
Although Hibs’ current position may be somewhat precarious, Hanlon insisted it wasn’t a topic for discussion, the young defender saying: “It’s not been talked about.
“The manager is simply focused on how he wants us to play, to work hard for each other, to get a collective spirit and with all of us going in the same direction.
“He’s been working us hard in every training session he has taken and all the boys seem to be enjoying it. There’s not too much difference to what we had been doing – a few extra runs after training at the start of the week, but not a lot different.”
What may be different in time is the composition of the Easter Road squad with Fenlon revealing he intends to make some changes, although he has insisted he won’t go in for radical surgery as he prefers a degree of continuity.
Agreeing the arrival of a new manager so close to a transfer window – it opens in barely three weeks’ time – caused nervousness, apprehension and a determination to catch his eye in equal measure, Hanlon said: “I think everyone is nervous.
“Are you going to play under the new manager? Is he going to bring in his own players in the transfer window? All these things. But you just have to get your head down, work hard and make sure you perform well when you get the chance.
“We believe we have good enough players in the squad to be in a better position than we are, but, basically, we’ve been letting ourselves down so far this season.
“If the manger feels he needs to bring in a couple of players to freshen up the squad then that’s hopefully to better the club.”
A mammoth 28 points separate Rangers and Hibs going into tomorrow’s game, enough for the bookmakers to make the Glasgow outfit odds-on favourites to secure another victory, but Hanlon pointed to the way he and his team-mates had performed on their trips to Ibrox and Parkhead earlier in the season to suggest they’ll be approaching the match with more than a little hope.
He said: “We always seem to put in decent performances against the Old Firm, but really we have to concentrate on getting points from the teams round about us and on moving up the table.
“Rangers are a good side, but we know we can give them a bit of trouble if we play to our best.”
Hanlon brushed aside the suggestion that Rangers, having seen their lead over Celtic slashed from 12 points to just four in the space of a few weeks, are showing signs of feeling the heat.
He explained: “There’s always pressure on them to win every week.
“They had a disappointing result at Kilmarnock and by all accounts had a tough game at home to Dunfermline, but they’ll be trying to put that right by putting on a good performance for their fans.”