Terry Butcher has urged Hibs fans to be patient, insisting: “I’m no miracle worker.”
While the new Easter Road boss believes “baby steps” forward have been taken in the five matches since he and Maurice Malpas replaced Pat Fenlon, he’s well aware of his squad’s shortcomings but knows it will take time to turn things around.
The Capital club’s failings were again all too evident as they could only manage a draw with a St Johnstone side forced to play for almost an hour with ten men after ex-Hibs midfielder Paddy Cregg was shown a red card only 34 seconds after replacing the injured Murray Davidson, his crime a two-footed lunge at the home team’s Paul Cairney.
It was the third time Butcher had watched his new charges – the Scottish Premiership’s lowest-scoring team – draw a blank but the lack of goals has seen Hibs struggle for weeks, only four scored in their last 12 games which have offered just two wins, one in the league against Partick Thistle and the other against Ross County in the Scottish Cup – to date, the new manager’s only win.
While Butcher is determined to make changes in the forthcoming transfer window, he has two matches to negotiate before he’ll have the chance to do so, the Boxing Day trip to Dingwall while Sunday’s home game against Kilmarnock gives Hibs the chance to win only their second league game of the season at Easter Road.
Butcher would have to be quick off the mark to introduce any new faces before the third derby of the season on the evening of January 2. Having told his players the number of new arrivals will be influenced by their performances in the meantime, Butcher said: “We know what we want to do in January and further on.
“We just carry on. We have three more matches before we can do something in the window. We will chop and change, maybe keep it the same, I do not know. We will have a look at it but it was the same old story of us not doing enough to score, enough to ensure the final ball in and shots are of a high quality,
“But that is down to confidence as well. You cannot repair what has been going on for quite some time here at Easter Road in four or five games. If I do that, it would be miraculous. But what we are looking at is trying to take steps forwards, increase the confidence of the players through a good run of games and scoring goals. We will keep working at that.”
The return of injured striker Paul Heffernan and teenage winger Alex Harris, out since the opening day of the season having broken a bone in his ankle, will, hopefully, help remedy Hibs malaise in front of goal while Butcher believes Jason Cummings, who made his first start in a green and white shirt against the Saints, will also make his mark.
The 18-year-old, released by Hearts after suffering a serious knee injury which required three operations, has been prolific for both Hibs Under-20 and East of Scotland sides this season, and having watched him complete his first 90 minutes in the top flight, Butcher said: “I thought he had an excellent game. He looks a good talent.”