JAMES COLLINS reckons the international break could have come at just the right time for Hibs.
The Easter Road club were due to announce today the appointment of Terry Butcher as their new manager, having just come off the back of a disappointing weekend defeat by, ironically, Butcher’s former employer Inverness, which made it five matches without a win for Hibs.
Butcher will have just under two weeks to get to know his new Hibs squad and with the Hibees not in action until Saturday week when they travel to face St Mirren, Collins hopes that, by then, their new boss will have begun to make his mark.
He said: “The new man has got this week and next to get to know the players and see what they are capable of. He’ll really get a chance to put his mark on the side.
“We know there is a lot to be worked on and a lot of areas he will want to take a closer look at too.
“The break for the international matches has really come at a good time for us because it’s a chance for us to really pull together.
“Hopefully, he can get us all back into shape and we will be ready to go again in time for the game against St Mirren.”
After sitting in the stand to watch the 2-0 defeat by Caley, Butcher will already be planning tweaks to the Hibs line-up. However, rather than worrying that the new manager will make sweeping changes, Collins insists this should be seen as an exciting time for both the players and the fans.
He expects to see an added edge in training as players stake their claim for a place in the starting XI under the new man.
“We have got some great experience running through this team right now,” said Collins. “Some of these boys have played at the highest level. It’s just that things aren’t going for us right now.
“If the new manager can quickly get a system organised, hopefully we will be on the verge of some good things.
“Everyone will have a clean slate. Guys who weren’t involved under the last manager will be looking to push themselves into the side over the next few weeks.
“It could be completely different under the new manager. Everyone has something to prove and I think training this week will be of the highest intensity.”
Hibs’ performance against Inverness was one of their poorest of the season, with the visitors dominating from start to finish.
Caley, now occupying second spot in the Premiership table, went into the match unbeaten in their previous two matches.
Nick Ross and Billy McKay scored the game’s two goals, but the Highlanders could easily have won the match by a greater margin.
Aaron Doran created havoc down the right and had a couple of chances to score himself, while Graeme Shinnie also came close to adding on a couple of occasions.
The 2-0 win flattered Hibs and Collins conceded that the players had been disappointed not only by the result, but also by the way that they played.
Although their second-half display was an improvement on the first, Collins said: “It was a disappointing result and performance.
“I thought we played a bit better in the second half than we did in the first, but, still, it wasn’t up to the standard that it should have been.
“Going one or two goals down in the first half is always going to leave you with a bit of an uphill struggle and that was certainly the case for us on Saturday.”
While Collins was upset by the outcome of the match, his misery was compounded by the fact he was also deemed to have fouled Shinnie for Caley’s first-half penalty.
“I didn’t think that it was a penalty,” stressed the 22-year-old, “but their player got in front of me and went over. The ref thought that it was a penalty and that’s what counts, I suppose. He’s got a decision to make in that split second and they got their first goal from it.
“There’s nothing that you can do about it now, so I have just got to take it on the chin, pick myself up and get on with it.”
Putting his personal disappointment to one side, Collins certainly believes that Hibs have the players in their current squad to turn their fortunes around.
He admitted that confidence is low among the playing staff right now and that the uncertainty surrounding the manager’s position hasn’t helped.
However, he says that getting a few decent victories under their belts should do the trick.
“I think that a win always helps your confidence and, as a striker, a goal always helps your confidence.
“If we can get into training this week, get our heads down and work hard, then hopefully everything will fall into place.”
“The lads were all gutted in the dressing room after the game.
“I don’t know if we were nervous of the fact that we were being watched.
“I think that we have just got to go out there and show what we can do.
“Hopefully, he [Butcher] saw some things in some people that he liked.”