Last week’s win over Dunfermline brought a little respite to the club after a hard-fought victory in Fife. I did, however, state within last Monday’s piece that I anticipated many twists along the way in pursuit of retaining our SPL status.
Sadly, this twist arrived a lot sooner than I or any other supporter for that matter might have envisaged.
After this weekend’s results, it would now appear it is a straight fight for the drop between Dunfermline and Hibs. On Saturday we were on the reverse of a 3-2 scoreline with the defeat to St Johnstone epitomising our season to date, particularly our home form. Once again our opponents have boarded the coach and departed the Capital with all three points after we failed to sustain any real pressure over the course of 90 minutes. We required a productive display to build on our previous two victories and gain a bit of impetus within the squad with our next fixture a daunting trip west to face Rangers.
Our defensive frailties were exposed for all three goals conceded on Saturday and this must be eradicated if we have any hope of surviving come May. In saying that, it’s too easy to point the finger at the four positioned across the back-line where the remaining members of the team should also be branded just as culpable. If I am being honest, we were lucky to escape with a narrow defeat as the Saints could have wrapped up victory early in the second period with the chances that came their way. However, levelling the game at 1-1 and building a platform to go on and win the game to then suddenly evaporate within 30 seconds of Leigh Griffiths’ penalty hitting the back of the net is unacceptable.
Only eight days remain of the transfer window where a change in personnel within the squad is a necessity. There have been too many occasions where the players taking to the park have failed to produce which has ultimately left us in this heartbreaking position.
As a new manager coming into any club, you can only do so much with the squad you have inherited from your predecessor, but this month provides an opportunity for Pat Fenlon and his management team to rectify this current predicament. There comes a time when certain individuals have to be moved on to make way for some fresh faces who can add their value to the club. I understand I may be beginning to sound a bit like a broken record with my persistent plea to see some new additions brought to the club but I don’t believe the current crop is strong enough to see us out of this mess.
Nerves are going to be a prominent feature of the Hibs dressing-room between now and the end of the season. Every league fixture remaining should be treated as a cup final as there is no room for error in this situation. The addition of a couple of experienced pros could prove decisive in our fate to avoid the drop where some older heads may be able to guide us through matches with a bit more composure. Introducing a couple of youngsters into the fray is a tough one to call but I believe this may prove too risky with only 15 league fixtures left to be concluded.
I have previously said the fear of relegation is a completely different kind of pressure from any other and there has to be leadership and responsibility placed on every player’s shoulders. For me, immediate action has to be taken if we are to give ourselves any chance of having away trips to Celtic Park or Tynecastle in the league next season.
Despite all the negativity pointed at Bobby Williamson, for example, during his tenure with the club, and our relatively low positioning in the league table, the prospect of relegation was never really an issue as we always appeared to have enough in the tank to keep us away from the foot of the table. I just hope I can say the same for this group of players over the course of the next few months.