HIBS chairman Rod Petrie has given Pat Fenlon his backing and told supporters that the manager must be given time to revive the club’s fortunes.
Petrie and representatives of the club met with a group of fans last night in a bid to smooth relations following a run of poor results.
The Easter Road side were knocked out of Europe by a 9-0 aggregate defeat from Malmo last month and suffered losses to both Motherwell and Hearts in their opening two league games.
Fans have voiced their frustrations, with many calling for the manager to go and there had been suggestions that there would be a protest from fans held before last Saturday’s draw with Dundee United.
Hibs released a statement on their website in response to the issues discussed at the meeting, acknowledging that results must improve.
But Petrie believes that they already have both the manager and the players capable of doing that.
However, Hibs also insisted that the management staff and squad can only thrive with the backing of the club’s supporters.
The statement read: “The chairman said the board and the club are keen to give the players and the manager every opportunity to deliver improved performances and through that, win matches.
“Rod Petrie told the meeting that we need to get better. We need to inspire supporters. We need to recapture the enthusiasm that brought 16,000 supporters to Easter Road Stadium for the match against Malmo despite being 2-0 down from the first leg. The players and the manager and the coaching staff need our support and encouragement to strive for that.”
Supporters used their question-and-answer session to grill the chairman on several issues, including the fact that they feel the club does not work with the media closely enough and that communication with those in the stands could be improved.
Petrie told the fans’ representatives that he shares their passion for Hibs and that he understands their frustration at the way their season has started.
And he admitted that results could – and probably should – have been better in recent weeks, given the quality of player they have on their books.
“The meeting was challenging”, the statement continued, “but held in a spirit of respect and courtesy. Hibernian supporters are passionate about their team and their club. They want only the best for Hibernian.
“That passion is shared by the board and everyone at the club. As well as through correspondence, the club gets feedback from supporters every match day, Behind the Goals; at monthly meetings of the supporters’ Lets Work Together group and through the Annual General Meeting which is held in early October.
“Supporters were understandably critical of performances and results, particularly against Malmo at home and at Tynecastle in the Edinburgh Derby. Strong words were used, reflecting the passion of supporters and their deep disappointment. The second leg tie against Malmo in the Europa League was a nightmare.
“The manager and players apologised for that after the match. Some supporters felt that was not enough and that more should have been said by the club.
“No-one took any pleasure from the match and everyone shared the embarrassment of our worst ever result in Europe. The chairman acknowledged the depth of feeling as something he shared. The factors faced by the club in the lead up to the tie were not offered as any excuse. The club could only apologise once more.”
Meanwhile, Barnsley could snatch Paddy McCourt from under the noses of the Easter |Road club.
The former Celtic winger has been training with the Championship side for the past week and has impressed manager, David Flitcroft.
The 29-year-old also spent a week with Hibs – who have openly admitted that they are looking to recruit at least one player in that position – earlier this month but he had indicated that he was keen to move to the United States and the MLS.
Flitcroft said: “Paddy’s come down to see what we’re all about. He is a magician on the ball, he is creative and a linker. He will certainly give us a different edge,” said Flitcroft.