‘I was stating facts’ – Hibs boss defends treble talk

Alan Stubbs was at Hampden ahead of the League Cup semi-final
Alan Stubbs was at Hampden ahead of the League Cup semi-final
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Alan Stubbs has insisted he wasn’t making any wild boast by stating Hibs were one of only two teams in with a chance of a treble this season, claiming he was simply stating facts.

Saturday’s League Cup opponents St Johnstone have jumped on Stubbs’ words claiming the Hibs head coach has simply brought added pressure on his own players.

But with the clock ticking down to the semi-final showdown at Tynecastle, Stubbs stood by his claim, asking: “Would you want me to say we’re in three competitions but we don’t want to win two of them.

“If I say that I’d be criticised. We are in three competitions, it’s a fact. I think sometimes you can read a headline but when you read into the story, what was said exactly, it does not necessarily represent the headline.

“Celtic are the only other team that are realistically in three competitions – is that me being too confident?

“We are in three competitions, that’s fantastic. It means we are doing well. Whether we can we win them, it’s going to be so hard, so difficult, but right now we are in three competitions and because we are in three we want to try to win.”

Stubbs accepted others may have taken his words and put their own interpretation on them, but he insisted: “I never said we were going to win a treble, the headline said it. I can’t help people’s perceptions of how they want to see what I said.

“It’s not me being big-headed. I am what I am. We are in three competitions, like it or lump it.”

Saints boss Tommy Wright has also said Hibs are the favourites, claiming Stubbs enjoys a bigger budget than he does but, having made the same points as his side prepared to face Rangers, Stubbs, the former Celtic and Everton defender, admitted that was “fair comment”. He said: “I am thankful to be in the position where I have been allowed to spend. I feel as if we have brought in some really good additions. I feel the team is going in the right direction from the one I inherited.

“From that point of view, my budget is probably bigger. I am happy it’s bigger.”

Stubbs, who has made five signings so far in the January transfer window, the most notable of them being Anthony Stokes on loan from Celtic, agreed that brought greater expectation among the club’s supporters, but he’s happy for that to be the case.

He said: “I want a team that wins things, I want my team to emulate me and what the club stands for. I want to be successful, in order to be successful you have to speculate to accumulate and I have been allowed to do that.

“I have no problem with expectation.”

And Stubbs was adamant he won’t let the weight of expectation lie too heavily on his shoulders. He said: “I have never looked at pressure, I would call it excitement. To get to a final that’s not pressure, to be competing for the Championship, that’s not pressure.

“Pressure is when you are trying to stay out of relegation, going out in the early rounds to lower league teams so I don’t look on this as pressure. If this is pressure, great.”

Stubbs revealed he has a full squad at his disposal, midfielder Dylan McGeouch having returned to training after missing the victory over St Mirren with a pelvic problem.