Terry Butcher today insisted that Hibs’ pursuit of the top six is still very much alive despite Friday night’s “unacceptable” performance against Dundee United.
But he has demanded a positive reaction to the 3-1 home defeat.
Butcher’s players missed the chance to turn up the heat on sixth-placed St Johnstone as they crashed to United, but Saints couldn’t take advantage as they went down 1-0 to high-flying Aberdeen 24 hours later.
Hibs remain three points behind the Perth club, but have another chance to haul themselves level when they face Motherwell in the Capital on Saturday while Saints are in Scottish Cup action against Raith Rovers, although it will mean Hibs have played one more Scottish Premiership game than their top-six rivals.
Butcher, though, will be determined to keep very much in touch with Tommy Wright’s side with the clubs due to meet at McDiarmid Park on March 22, the outcome of which could prove pivotal.
Hibs haven’t finished in the top half of the table in any of the past three seasons, but although there are only six games remaining before the split, Butcher is still optimistic. However, he concedes his players must turn in much better displays.
The Hibs boss said: “When you look at the results over the weekend we haven’t lost any ground. There’s still a number of games to go, we still have to play St Johnstone. So, from that point of view, the result against United wasn’t a major setback.
“It’s all about reaction. I take responsibility for the defeat but the players have to give me something back. They have to give me a lot more effort than they did, a lot more tenacity and a lot more passing.”