Pat Fenlon claims Hibs could have been sitting top of the SPL table today had they shown just a little more self-belief.
The Easter Road boss watched his side pass up two opportunities to hit the summit in the space of just eight days, surrendering a two-goal lead against Inverness Caley and then seeing their six-match unbeaten run ended by Aberdeen.
Instead, the 2-1 defeat at Pittodrie – Eoin Doyle’s wonder strike cancelling out Niall McGinn’s early opener only for Gavin Rae to clinch the points for the Dons – saw Hibs slip from second to fifth place, albeit they remain just two points behind new leaders Celtic.
However, Fenlon insisted his players should remember just how they put that unbeaten run together and set out to start another one and prove the setback in Aberdeen was no more than a blip as they face basement outfit Dundee at home on Saturday.
Fenlon firmly believed a draw would have been a fairer result against the Dons, veteran Shefki Kuqi beating goalkeeper Jamie Langfield in the last minute only to see Mark Reynolds deny Hibs a point by clearing his shot off the line.
The Irishman revealed: “I said to the boys to have more belief in themselves. They are good players, we are a good team and have shown that over the last five or six weeks, but they need to believe in themselves a bit more. That’s probably more frustrating than anything.
“I cannot be critical of their work-rate, their honesty. They are good players and they have developed a great team spirit, but they just have to believe in themselves a bit more.”
While bitterly disappointed with the outcome in Aberdeen, Fenlon insisted Hibs are heading in the right direction, their early season form catching many by surprise given the difficulties the club has faced over the past couple of seasons and the radical reshaping of the squad in the past few months.
He said: “We are getting there. There’s maybe only four players left at the club since I came in so it’s a massive change-over. We’ve brought in a certain type of player and we are happy with the group we have. They work really hard but we need to add a bit more self-belief.
“I didn’t think there was a huge amount in the game, but we were disappointed because the boys probably did not get to the levels we have previously. We could have picked something up, so we are desperately disappointed.
“We’ve come a long way. We do not want to be losing football matches as we feel we are capable of going anywhere and getting results.
“But we have to get on with it. We’ve hit a blip, but now we have the chance to move on with a big game at home.”
Goalscorer Doyle agreed with Fenlon’s assessment, saying: “The last time we lost a game was the first of the season and we went on a good run after that. Now we have to do so again and stay up around the top of the table. It’s a totally different dressing room from last year. There are good characters in there who can lift the team.”