Marvin Bartley admits Hibs’ players have failed their manager and their supporters by not earning promotion to the Premiership.
The midfielder was in no mood for sugar-coating or excuse-making as he reflected on Friday night’s harrowing play-off semi-final second leg defeat by Falkirk.
Head coach Alan Stubbs has come under fire from sections of an angry and demoralised fanbase over the past few days, but Bartley believes it is he and his team-mates who should be carrying the can for the fact Hibs will be spending a third consecutive season in Scotland’s second tier.
“Without even thinking too deeply about it, it’s a failure,” he told the Evening News. “We aimed to get promoted and we haven’t done it. You can dress it up however you want but the long and the short of it is we failed. That’s down to us as players. The manager will defend us in the press and he’ll take criticism but, honestly, what more can he do about what happened on Friday? What can he do? We go through set-pieces constantly and we’re very thorough in what we do, but once we cross the white line, there’s nothing the gaffer can do. I feel sorry for him.
“We’re missing loads of chances – what can he do about that? Absolutely nothing. The blame falls on the players. If you score two goals away from home, you expect to take something from the game. Yeah, we’ve missed chances but we’ve also conceded three goals – that shouldn’t happen, but it has happened.
“When you see how the third goal was scored, you start to ask yourself if it’s a lack of desire. Was he more willing to get there than one of us? And the sad thing is I’m not sure. Everybody makes mistakes – I made mistakes myself on Friday. I won’t ever question my team-mates because I know we’ve done our best but unfortunately our best hasn’t been good enough.”
Bartley apologised to the Hibs supporters for failing to secure a return to the Premiership. He admits the players have been guilty of being too outspoken in their media dealings and failing to back up their bold words with deeds.
“I feel sorry for the supporters because we’ve let them down,” said the midfielder. “There can be nothing more frustrating than being in their position, where they don’t have any control over the results. We’ve let them down – no two ways about it. As a footballer, you have to speak to the press but we’ve done too much talking and not enough action. Even now, me talking about it, all I can do is apologise to the fans.”