Rowan Vine believes one of the main problems at Hibs is that new recruits are not afforded enough time to find their feet at the club.
Speaking a day after last summer’s high-profile signing James Collins was offloaded to Shrewsbury Town having been widely written off as a flop, former Easter Road forward Vine believes the high expectations that come with playing for one of the biggest clubs in Scotland can destroy players before they get a chance to adapt.
Vine, who himself was cast as a dud despite making only six starts for the club, is adamant that Collins, who scored almost 40 goals in the two and a half years prior to joining Hibs, is a good player who would have proved an asset had he been given more time and support from fans and management alike.
And the ex-St Johnstone attacker, who was released by Hibs in January, feels that there are plenty other players who have been inhibited by levels of impatience and restlessness from the Easter Road faithful which they hadn’t previously experienced.
“There are a number of factors in why things didn’t go as planned for James, and they would probably apply to a lot of players who come in to Hibs,” Vine told the Evening News.
“There’s a pressure of playing for Hibs, with the media and the spectator-based expectancy. You get the feeling they always need to have a scapegoat. The Hibs fans have a history of seeing talented players and, at some points, seeing their team play good, exciting football. That’s all fair enough but Hibs have been struggling to live up to those expectations for a long time.
“I don’t think you can put what’s happened at Hibs [relegation] this season down to any one player. Look at Liam Craig and myself – we both came in after having a great season at St Johnstone but Liam will be the first to admit he didn’t have a great season at Hibs, while I certainly didn’t have a great time of it.
“I know if I was given a chance I would have turned it round at Hibs because I know I’m a good player at that level. And I believe that the manager should have said to James at the end of the season, ‘right, I’m going to put my faith in you in the Championship and you’re going to score me 30 goals.’ Instead he went the other way.”
Vine’s views are especially pertinent as Hibs prepare for a summer rebuild which is likely to involve a raft of new recruits coming in from smaller clubs.
“I went to St Johnstone and we didn’t win any of the first five games and I didn’t do much in terms of scoring and creating goals,” said the 31-year-old.
“Then we went and beat Celtic and I scored the winner. I didn’t do any better in the early days at St Johnstone than I did at Hibs. You do get the feeling at Hibs, that they’re waiting on players to hit the ground running. It’s tough, especially when you’re bringing in about six players in the same boat.”