The two-goal lead we had taken into yesterday’s second leg perhaps put us in a comfort zone and a feeling that the job was done. How wrong could we be?
I am still reeling from the events at Easter Road almost 24 hours ago and relegation to the Championship will take many days, weeks to get my head around.
Jason Scotland’s early strike seemed to spur the Hibs players to go hiding in their shells for the remainder of the match in which the visitors were far superior and worthy winners with their attempts to get the ball down and attack the Hibs rearguard. Hamilton were the much more imaginative side throughout as we simply became too one-dimensional with the long ball into the strikers – a tactic that was never going to pay off.
I never envisaged I’d be writing my piece acknowledging that Hibernian Football Club are no longer part of the Scottish Premiership. But, in truth, we’ve had numerous opportunities over the last few months to get into a safe position and we’ve failed to take any of them. However, to throw away the advantage we had gained from the first leg last midweek is inexcusable. We have been on a disastrous run since the turn of the year, which has culminated in the confidence draining away right throughout the side. Each game becomes so important when you’re at the bottom of the division and picking up just one point from our five post-split fixtures is not acceptable.
We have been relegated because we are simply not good enough across all areas of the pitch. The vast majority of the squad have fallen well short of the standards needed to play in the top flight. There is absolutely no sentiment in football and teams visiting Easter Road in recent weeks have sensed our demise and raised their game.
I do not know how we have got ourselves into such a mess, but it’s plain to see the time has come for massive change at the club. The Championship next season will be a strong set-up and is sure to pose a formidable challenge in getting back up at the first time of asking. The supporters will have lots of questions needing answers and rightly so. The club has been in decline for far too long and attitudes have to change. We need players who understand what it means to play for Hibernian and the demands that come with it. There has to be much improvement in the standard of player next season to try and rectify everything that has gone wrong this year.
When Alex McLeish found himself in a similar scenario in the summer of 1998, he assembled a side that is still regarded as one of the finest seen at Easter Road in a number of decades. We need talented and trusted pros who can wear their hearts on their sleeves. In the weeks ahead, there are sure to be repercussions that come with relegation to the Championship. There has to be some sort of acknowledgement from the club regarding yesterday’s sorry outcome. It’s what we, as fans, deserve at least. I want to see a revival at Easter Road as this is not the Hibs I recognise or once played for. It is shattering to end the season in such dire circumstances, but we have to remain positive that it cannot and should not get any worse than this. Now is the time for change as season after season of just pottering along will no longer be tolerated.
Next season’s Championship is sure to be competitive with the probability that our neighbours, Rangers, Falkirk and Livingston will all be vying for top spot and promotion to the Premiership. We must ensure we are also in this category by spending wisely over the summer and recruiting the kind of player that will make this a reality. I’ve heard a lot over the past weeks that the Championship is “the place to be” next season but I don’t buy that one bit. Yesterday will go down as a dark, dark day in our history.