Hibs boss reassures players they are doing things right

Paul Hanlon says Hibs fans expect high standards but the team can live with expectations

Paul Hanlon says Hibs fans expect high standards but the team can live with expectations

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Such was the disappointment his players felt at missing out on a return to the top of the Championship after surrendering the lead to Dundee United, Hibs boss Neil Lennon insisted they sat down together to watch a replay of the first half of that game.

His intention wasn’t to subject them to a video nasty, but to reassure them that, in fact, they’d actually played pretty well in those first 45 minutes.

And, revealed defender Paul Hanlon, it was a message which struck home, the only shortcoming highlighted being the need to be more clinical in front of the opposition goal, a point Lennon has made more than once as he’s watched his players fail to win in their last three league games.

Hanlon said: “We watched the first half of the United game again and it showed how dominant we actually were.

“The manager picked up on the point that we should be doing better in the final third, but it was more a demonstration of how on top we have been in games.

“So he wants us to keep those standard high but to add to it in the offensive areas of the pitch.

“The point of the meeting was more to emphasise ‘don’t be too down lads, you’re not doing too much wrong’.

“I think he maybe noticed a few of the boys felt a bit down about their performance and he was trying to tell us we weren’t as bad as maybe we thought we were.”

Although Hibs have taken just two points out of a possible nine in recent weeks, Hanlon insisted the mood around Easter Road was more one of frustration than feeling there was any need for panic.

Adamant he and his team-mates can use today’s Irn-Bru Cup tie against St Mirren to bounce back from disappointing results against Ayr United, Queen of the South and Dundee United, the 26-year-old said: “There is no panic at all within the coaching staff or anything like that.

“We feel we are not playing too badly, we’re just lacking a bit of composure in the final third. We’ve been conceding sloppy goals as well so it’s more frustration than panic.

“We set high standards by starting the season so well and you want to keep that going. Hopefully we’ll win today and that will help when the league campaign starts again.”

Although everyone at Easter Road would admit the importance of the Irn-Bru Cup pales in comparison to the number one target of promotion, Hanlon was 
adamant that, nevertheless, it was a trophy the Scottish Cup holders want to add to their 
collection.

He said: “It’s a tournament we want to go far in. It’s a chance to get to another final so we want to go our there and get through to the next round.

“We want to win, especially with the last few results in the league. We have dropped points so we want to get back to winning ways.

“So hopefully a win here can help push us on in the league again.”

Hanlon insisted he didn’t hear the muted boos from some as the final whistle sounded on the United game but admitted being red hot favourites to take the title brought an expectation mirrored by the fact that the visit of the Tannadice outfit attracted a crowd of almost 15,500 despite the game kicking off at noon and being televised live by Sky.

He said: “The turn-out has been great since the start of the season. Season ticket sales went through the roof as soon as we won the cup.

“The support is there for us, I have always said that even when we weren’t playing well or having disappointing seasons.

“We are the big fish in the league and we are going to have the biggest crowds. We’re going to have to deal with that and I think we have done so pretty well.

“There would be a lot more to worry about if we weren’t getting in good areas in games or if we were being really sloppy.

“I think we are getting into decent areas to create chances, it’s just about putting them away now.

“We just haven’t been clinical enough in the last few games, really.”