Terry Butcher today insisted he’s focused only on moving up the table as Hibs hover between a top-six place and the Scottish Premiership’s relegation play-off position.
Three successive league defeats – allied to a Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Championship outfit Raith Rovers – have left some Easter Road fans fretting, with Butcher’s side going into today’s match against Ross County only six points clear of that dreaded second bottom place. But the Hibs boss has no such concerns, telling them: “We are only four points off top six and that’s all we are looking at. It’s quicker to get to the top six and we want to do well in every one of the nine matches we have left before the split.
“We are looking up, not looking down. We are trying to make sure we catch the team above us. We have done it before. A few weeks ago, at the start of the year, when we beat Hearts we were in the top six. We were only there for a brief period, we didn’t enjoy it that much because we did not have time but we are looking to enjoy it at the end of these nine matches when we are in that top six and cannot be in the bottom six because of the split.
“To do that we have to have a huge effort from everyone and that’s what we are about. That’s what we want to do. We have nine cup finals and our objective is to score one more than the opposition as you would do in every cup match. It starts today. We’ve talked about it, but talk is cheap.
“We’ve certainly had several slaps in the face recently. It hurts, it really does hurt and we don’t want to have that hurt feeling again. We want our cheeks glowing red, not from being slapped, but from pride, enjoyment and hard work.”
And, with the number of players out of contract at the end of the season running into double figures, not to mention loan signings Duncan Watmore, Daniel Boateng and Danny Haynes, Butcher, who intends to carry out radical surgery on his squad, insisted each of them had everything to play for both collectively and individually.
He said: “It will not peter out here, no matter what the circumstances are. We will not allow that to happen because players are playing for contracts and there are a lot of players out of contract in the summer.
“They’ve got to show me they are worthy of that. They all know anyway. It does not matter if you have a one-year deal, five years or even just months, you are still playing for your future whether it is here or somewhere else.
“Every game is a ninety-minute job interview for players and they have to make sure they give their best.”