Hibs boss Pat Fenlon today claimed to have detected a growing sense of unease among the Hearts support the closer the Capital outfits edge towards Saturday’s historic Scottish Cup final.
Fenlon is well aware the Jambo fans regard the Tynecastle club as favourites to lift the trophy and has no quibbles with his side being regarded as underdogs, a tag they’ve earned having not won any of the last ten derbies and having lost all three SPL clashes to Paulo Sergio’s men this season.
Nevertheless, Fenlon believes that scenario brings a pressure of it’s own and feels there’s a nagging doubt behind some of the bravado from Hearts supporters as they look to extend Hibs’ 110-year Cup hoodoo for at least another 12 months.
He said: “Yes, I think there’s a bit of fear there. They feel they have the hex over us but I also think there’s a little doubt in some of their heads as well. I think there’s a bigger fear for them than there is for us.”
Fenlon knows there is a great rivalry between the fans of both clubs with the Hampden showdown set to send one set ecstatic while plunging the other into the depths of despair.
He said: “I know the two sets of fans don’t like each other, but it’s a good rivalry as well in that I don’t think it is as bad as the Old Firm. To be honest, I have not had any bad comments or derogatory remarks from Hearts fans in Edinburgh and I do not think that’s there.
“On the day, they’ll not like each other but they’ll get on with each other after it.”
And Fenlon believes the prospect of the first all-Edinburgh Cup final in 116 years has caught the imagination of football supporters the length and breadth of the country. He said: “It’s a great occasion for the city, no doubt about that. I think even outside Edinburgh the fans of other clubs are looking forward to the game because it’s not Celtic and Rangers, it’s not the both of them or even one of them involved.”
Fenlon was at Celtic Park on Sunday to watch Neil Lennon’s side crush Hearts 5-0 although Paulo Sergio, as the Hibs boss had the previous day at Inverness, fielded a much changed side with an eye on the final itself. There, he claimed, he’d felt a lot of goodwill towards his side from Hoops fans, something he believes supporters elsewhere harbour towards Hibs on this occasion given their Scottish Cup history.
He said: “Outside the Hearts support I feel perhaps there is a lot of goodwill for us to win it because of that noose around the neck.”