Hibs boss Alan Stubbs today declared his deployment of a new-look 3-5-2 formation a success after the Easter Road side booked their place in the League Cup quarter-finals with a 2-0 win away to Premiership strugglers Ross County.
After seeing his team lose their past two away matches in the Championship, against Alloa and Queen of the South, the head coach opted for a change of tactics last night and fielded three centre-halves in the shape of Jordon Forster, Paul Hanlon and Liam Fontaine in an effort to deal with an anticipated aerial bombardment from County.
It worked a treat as Hibs, for whom recent recruit Dominique Malonga scored a first-half double, recorded their first clean sheet of the season. Stubbs hailed his team’s adaptability in being able to cope so well with a formation which notoriously can take players some getting used to.
“We changed to three at the back not for any specific reason,” he told the Evening News. “We felt it would give us a bit more height and solidity in defence to deal with the balls that Ross County usually try and put into the box.
“I felt it worked really well. It’s always nice as a manager if you change something and it works. It’s not about formations, though – it’s about players on the pitch. The reason you get results, more often than not, is simply that the 11 players you put out are better than the opposition’s 11.”
It remains to be seen whether Hibs will stick with 3-5-2 for their next league match away to Rangers on Monday night. “I told the players when I first came in that I wanted them to be able to adapt to different formations,” said Stubbs. “I want them to understand different formations and not just want to be rigid in a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3 or whatever. Since I’ve come in, we’ve played a number of formations and we’ll continue to decide which formation to play on a game-to-game basis.”
Stubbs hailed captain Liam Craig for a big performance in midfield as he returned to the starting XI after being dropped to the bench for the previous two games matches. He said: “Liam’s had a tough time of it recently but he’s a really good pro. He’s got a great attitude and wants to do the best he can. I respect him an awful lot. He deserved to return because he’s trained really well. He’s had a little break and he came in last night and put in a great shift.”