PAT FENLON believes the dark cloud cast over Easter Road by their Scottish Cup final thrashing has brought Hibs a silver lining in allowing him to press ahead with his rebuilding plans.
While admitting the 5-1 capitulation at Hampden by their greatest rivals was “a nightmare, a disaster,” the Hibs boss revealed just reaching the final had brought a financial reward which has been put to good use.
Since May Fenlon has embarked on a radical overhaul of his squad, the vast majority of the raft of loan signings he’d made with the sole aim of keeping Hibs in the SPL departing along with some more familiar faces. In their place Fenlon has made nine signings with the Capital club, which finished one off bottom last season, taking everyone by surprise as they’ve rocketed to second in the table.
But today Fenlon questioned whether he’d have been able to make such rapid progress without what turned out to be a very painful memory. Admitting he knew the enormity of the job facing him as he took over from Colin Calderwood last November, the Irishman said: “It is like everything, 90 per cent of the time you get a job because someone has struggled previously.
“I think the target was to stay in the league, We did that. Getting to the Cup final was a massive plus in terms of the finances and how we can move the team on this season. It was a nightmare, a disaster on the day, a horrible day. But you have to balance it. If we had not got there we might not have been able to strengthen as much as we have.”
Throughout the summer, Fenlon displayed a patience in identifying and pursuing what he described as “the right characters,” insisting as the fans fretted over a perceived lack of activity it was more important he bring in those he believed would begin to restore the club’s fortunes than simply make signings for the sake of it.
And, he insisted, it is those who are pulling on the green and white shirt who take the credit for what has been a highly promising start to the season. “Players,” he replied when asked what has changed, “That’s it, no doubt about it.
“We have a great bunch of honest players with ability. That is half the battle. We have got some great characters in there but they are very good footballlers as well. They are willing to work hard for each other, that’s the main difference. There is no magic formula. They just work very hard.
“There is lots to improve on. We can retain the ball better for instance, and that is something we will continue to work on, but they work hard for each other when we have the ball and when we don’t have it.”