Paul Hanlon insists Hibs must capitalise on the sense of buoyancy around the club at present to make sure they hit the ground running in their quest to win the Championship.
The defender knows all too well how hard it is to keep pace with a fast-starting front-runner after the Easter Road side were left trailing by Hearts and Rangers, respectively, in each of the previous two seasons.
With Hibs players and supporters still on a high after their historic Scottish Cup triumph in May and more than 10,000 season-tickets having been sold for Neil Lennon’s maiden campaign at the helm, Hanlon feels his team are now well placed to get off to a strong start of their own and leave the likes of Falkirk and Dundee United doing the chasing.
“The focus is on making sure we get off to a fast start because that can take you on right through the season,” the centre-back told the Evening News. “If you get a good five to ten games at the start of the season, you’re well on your way. We’ve proved in the last two seasons that we can go on big runs of winning week in, week out, but it’s not easy to do. It’s all about concentrating in every single minute of every game, and we need to do that from the start.”
A string of positive pre-season results, allied to a gallant Europa League defeat by Brondby, has helped maintain optimism levels at Easter Road into the new season. Hanlon, who has experienced plenty bleaker times with his boyhood club, believes it is imperative that he and his team-mates ensure the euphoric mood at Hibs isn’t allowed to ebb away once the league campaign kicks off away to Falkirk on Saturday week.
“I wouldn’t say the Scottish Cup win has solved everything because we’re still in the Championship and we need to put that right, but it’s definitely got the fans back onside and on a high,” he said. “There’s a real feelgood factor about the club just now. When the fans are on a high, as they have been since the cup final, you need to try and maintain that. They have come out in their numbers and committed to season-tickets so it’s up to us now to put on performances to keep them coming. We’ve managed to keep our standards high in pre-season, and the Brondby games in particular have given us a lot of confidence, so we need to make sure it stays like that.”