PAT Fenlon still believes Hibs’ home record can hold the key to the Easter Road club’s SPL survival.
The Capital outfit have won just one league game on their own turf all season, that 3-2 victory over St Johnstone in September arguably the difference between them and basement side Dunfermline over whom Hibs enjoy a four-point advantage.
Nevertheless, it is a miserable statistic, one which worsens when you consider that triumph over St Johnstone has been Hibs only one in the SPL in more than a year, a dreadful return which Fenlon readily agrees needs dramatic improvement.
Of the three matches Fenlon’s side will play before the split, today’s clash with Dundee United and the visit of Motherwell in a fortnight’s time will be in Edinburgh, games which the Hibs boss believes offers the opportunity to gain precious points.
Fenlon would be the first to admit it will be tough going, the Tannadice club, in his estimation, the form team outwith Celtic, while Motherwell have their eyes firmly on that second Champions League spot.
However, despite Hibs’ precarious position, Fenlon continues to insist others can yet be drawn into a fight they don’t want to be in, arguing that results over the next three games can totally alter the complexion of the bottom six as they contemplate the final five post-split matches.
He said: “Obviously our home record needs to improve dramatically, we want a home record we can be very proud of, for our supporters to come here and ‘be at it,’ for it to be an intimidating, more difficult for teams than it has been previously.”
Turning things around on that front may be more a long-term aim, Fenlon conceding it can’t happen overnight but well aware the result today and that in a fortnight’s time could go a long way to deciding Hibs’ SPL fate.
He said: “We have two home games before the split and it’s important we pick up points in them. It’s all about having the right attitude and mentality going in to them.
“United are a good side, on a good run of form and it will be tough for us but we need everyone performing, not like last week from half-time on but from the start and throughout the 90 minutes.”
Fenlon’s aim is to get closer to the clubs immediately in front of Hibs at the moment, namely Inverness Caley and St Mirren who enjoy five and eight-point advantages over his side, the Irishman questioning how others may cope if they are knocked out of their current “comfort zone”.
He said: “We are looking ahead to see if we can get a bit closer to one or two others before the split. Then we’ll see which way the bottom-six fixtures come out.
“The fact ourselves and Dunfermline have been scrapping away for a while might count to our advantage whereas if one or two teams come from where they thought was a comfortable position suddenly into a relegation battle it’s hard to make that mentality change.”