PAT FENLON has revealed he accepts Hibs fans’ expectations that the Easter Road outfit should be a top-six SPL side as a “given”, but insisted doing so was easier said than done.
But having seen Hibs end up 11th last season, following a tenth-place finish the year before, Fenlon insisted there isn’t as huge a gap between most of the top-flight clubs as those bald statistics might suggest.
After the trauma of only escaping the threat of relegation in the penultimate game of the campaign, Fenlon is viewing his first full season as Hibs manager determined to restore supporters’ pride in their club, embarking on a rebuilding process which has seen many players leave.
However, not all of them will be replaced as Fenlon demands quality over quantity, the Irishman adopting a meticulous and patient approach with has, so far, resulted in the arrival of new signings Tim Clancy, Paul Cairney and Ben Williams, along with the return on a permanent basis of James McPake, an outstanding success in his loan spell from Coventry City.
Further signings are anticipated with Fenlon revealing he’d like “two or three more” with the immediate priority being to beef up his strikeforce with an experienced hitman.
Fenlon readily concedes Hibs have under-performed over the course of the past couple of seasons, but, while nothing is guaranteed, he is relishing the challenge of driving the Capital club back to where many, even outwith the walls of Easter Road, believe they belong.
He said: “Everyone talks about Hibs being a big club, but we have to go and prove it. People talk of expectations. We are in the bottom six, but we have to be in the top six. That’s a given.
“We have to make sure we are fighting our way to be at that end of the table; after that you do not know. But that’s very easy to say – you have to go and do it. There are a lot of very good sides in the league, but I think that outwith the top two or three there wasn’t a massive difference when you played each other.
“But some of the teams got on a roll – six, seven or eight games and that created a gap. If you can do that you get yourself out of trouble quickly.”
Meanwhile, Hibs have announced that having had their friendly against Romanian side Rapid Bucharest cancelled due to a waterlogged pitch, they’ll now play East Fife in Methil tomorrow. The match kicks off at 2pm with admission £6 (adults) and £4 (children).
Former Hibs striker Garry O’Connor will embark on a second spell in Russian football after signing a two-year deal with Siberian outfit FC Tom Tomsk.