Alan Stubbs issued a rallying cry to the Hibs support as he urged everyone in the home end at Easter Road today to unite behind the team for their must-win showdown with Raith Rovers.
The Edinburgh side have to overturn a 1-0 deficit in the second leg of their Premiership play-off quarter-final against the Kirkcaldy side this lunchtime.
Rovers manager Ray McKinnon has spoken of his hope that an angst-ridden home support will turn on their team if things don’t go their way early on. However, Stubbs, whose side have lost only two of their 25 home games this season, has called on the Hibs fans to play their part in setting up a semi-final clash with Falkirk by remaining patient, providing relentless positive vocal backing and instead cranking up the heat on the Rovers players.
“The fans have got a huge part to play, and when I say huge I mean that,” said the head coach. “People talk about coming here and frustrating the team and ensuring that seeps into the crowd, and how that can have a negative effect. Let me flip that on its head. What about the positive effect when fans are really behind the team, as they have been all season and make Easter Road a hostile, intimidating place. Let’s see the opposite side, let’s see how the opposition deals with that.
“The fans are not soft, especially the fans at Easter Road. They are football fans, they know what they want to see. I have been involved in some fantastic games this season where the crowd has been unbelievable. If the fans bring their A game as well as the team, let’s show the opposition how difficult a place Easter Road can be.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs laughed off claims from McKinnon that his animated actions in the dugout on Wednesday suggested he was feeling the pressure. The Raith boss claimed that he was sitting back drinking tea while his Hibs counterpart was showing the signs of a man under the cosh.
“He should have put a manager cam on me, then,” joked Stubbs. “And then you’d be able to go through it all. You certainly wouldn’t see me acting odd.
“He says he had a cup of tea, did he? Oh, he didn’t mention that he banged his head on the dugout, did he? He also didn’t mention the fourth official speaking to him, and all, telling him to calm down.
“If there would have been a manager cam on me then you would have seen me sitting down, you would have seen me standing up, talking to the players on the bench … I must be under some pressure. Does it look like I feel it? Listen, I’m relaxed. As I have been throughout the tie.
“Pressure doesn’t bother me whatsoever. I come into work every day and put pressure on myself to be even better than the previous day, the previous week. As a player, I put pressure on myself to be as good as I can. Maybe that’s why I did quite well.”
Stubbs has no injury concerns for today’s match and the head coach confirmed that key midfielder Dylan McGeouch is now fit enough to be considered for a start.