TERRY BUTCHER has assured Hibs fans their side won’t be the lowest scorers in the Scottish Premiership for much longer, with the new manager promising a style of play that he hopes will lend itself to more goals.
The Easter Road side have scored only nine goals in their 13 league matches this season, while they also failed to register in three of their four games in cup competitions.
By contrast, Butcher’s old Inverness side are among the top scorers in the division with 20 goals from 12 Premiership games. The Englishman is hoping to develop a similarly positive approach with the Edinburgh club to that which served him so well in the Highlands.
“The way that we want to play lends itself to creating more chances and hopefully creating more crosses and shots,” Butcher said ahead of his first match in charge, away to St Mirren tomorrow. “It is not something the team has done with a great fluency and confidence, getting the ball in the final third and scoring and having shots and crosses.
“There are enough skilful players – people like Paul Heffernan and Liam Craig and Scott Robertson and people like that who have scored goals this season, and have scored the majority of Hibs’ goals. They have enjoyed that part of the training and they have enjoyed putting the ball in the back of the net.”
While some sceptical Hibs fans will be wondering where the goals are going to come from, Butcher recalls having similar thoughts at Inverness when his team lost a raft of key men in summer 2012. They ended up finishing last season as the third-highest scorers in the SPL, with Billy McKay taking the league by storm, and Butcher is hoping something similar can happen with Hibs and their misfiring attackers.
He said: “I remember before the start of last season after Jonny Hayes and Gregory Tade had gone – they hadn’t scored a lot but they were our two top goalscorers – Maurice said to me: ‘How are we going to score goals?’ I said: ‘Well, we will just have a look and see how we get on’.
“But we scored twice in the first game, ironically at St Mirren, and didn’t really look back after that. We scored in every game up until the St Johnstone game in December – not bad for a team we never thought were going to score a goal.
“It is not about having proven goalscorers – it is about having a team that is prepared to work and get into areas where they can score a goal, it is up to runners and strikers and other people to put the ball into the net.
“The way we want to play, I think it is different to what they are used to. That is not a negative reflection on the people here before, but we like to play a certain way, and we like our strikers to do certain things. It is a fresh start for them and an opportunity for them to grab the chance and say: ‘I want to put the ball in the back of the net and be your man’.”
Meanwhile, Butcher is facing the prospect of having to watch the St Mirren game from the stand tomorrow after being hit with a £1,000 fine and a two-game touchline ban, one of which is suspended for the rest of the season, for an incident in Inverness’s League Cup tie against Dundee United last month.
The Englishman is prevented from occupying “a place in or in the vicinity of the players’ tunnel, technical area or substitutes’ bench or on the track or playing surface” from an hour before kick-off and will not be able to rejoin his squad until five minutes after the full-time whistle.
“He will, however, be permitted to take his place in his team’s dressing-room and deliver his pre-match team talk as usual.
The club were understood to be weighing up an appeal, which would allow Butcher to take his place in the dugout tomorrow.