Hibs boss Pat Fenlon says controlled aggression from his players will be key to their chances of overcoming Hearts in Monday’s Edinburgh derby.
Fenlon will urge his charges to get “in the faces” of their rivals but to “keep a lid” on their combative approach as Hibs bid to secure their first win over the Jambos for more than two-and-a-half years.
While the Irish manager stressed the importance of a disciplined display, he insists his players must channel their battling qualities if they are to win their first league game of 2012.
“It’s difficult, because you get caught up in the atmosphere,” said Fenlon. “But you’ve got to approach it in the right way. Maybe a little change in the preparation this week is really about that rather than the football side.
“It’s just making sure that a lid is kept on. We’re up and at them and in their faces, but to a point where it’s legal.”
“I don’t think you can get caught up in [the fact it’s a derby match]. We’ve just got to prepare the team the best we can – analyse Hearts, see how we can cause them problems, how we’re going to stop their players playing.
“The rest of the derby looks after itself – it’s maybe [about] trying to keep a lid on it. The discipline has got to be good, so maybe little things like that you’ll work on more than you normally would. It’s just making sure that you keep everybody on the pitch and it doesn’t get out of hand, stick to the game plan and see if you can win the game.”
Hibs last won an SPL match 10 weeks ago, at St Mirren, with their previous home victory coming at the end of September against St Johnstone. Fenlon, installed as boss at Easter Road a month ago, gained his first point since taking charge in the 1-1 draw with Inverness in midweek. He is keen to build on such progress – if only for the sake of the long-suffering Hibs fans.
“As a manager it’s about winning matches,” said the 42-year-old Dubliner. “Derbies are really about the supporters – they’re the ones that get real pleasure out of it because they’re the ones who will take the flak over the next number of weeks or else they can dish it out.
“So it’s really about getting a win for people that get real enjoyment out of it. My enjoyment now would be three more points: that’s all I’m looking at. If we can win the game and everybody goes away really happy, even better again, it’s a plus. But it’s really about picking up points more than anything else to me.”