The endless conversations I have had with supporters and those involved at all levels of the game have enforced me to repeat certain things time and time again – more specifically, the early part of any season is all about picking up points to provide a platform for the remaining months ahead.
Good performances can improve as the season progresses but, if you are still losing, point tallies don’t. This is why when you’re still being able to win when not playing well can prove a huge bonus. When the season’s formalities are all done and dusted, not many will scrutinise certain performances if you are up at the top end of the league.
With this year’s inaugural SPFL Premiership now beginning to take shape, Hibs have started to find a little bit of consistency within their own game. Knowing that the current league champions are in town, you need to play to your maximum potential to take anything from the fixture and not give the opposition too much respect and allow them to dictate proceedings.
Thankfully, Hibs achieved that aim at Easter Road on Saturday. The players competed from start to finish and knocked Celtic out of their stride. They thoroughly deserved their point from the 90 minutes and Neil Lennon’s men would know they had been in a game en route back to Glasgow.
I was quite alarmed by the Celtic manager’s post-match criticism of the way the Hibs players challenged their opponents. This was by no means a dirty game and there was never any malice or intent from any of the tackles I can recall. Does Neil Lennon just expect opponents to let his players walk the ball into the net?
Despite Celtic’s strong finish towards the closing stages – something that is always expected – Hibs created one or two opportunities of their own that could have put the game out of sight. Paul Heffernan demonstrated his prowess in front of goal once again and showed he knows how to dispatch the ball into the back of the net. If he continues to climb up the scoring charts then he just might turn out to be Pat Fenlon’s most shrewd piece of business in the transfer market since coming into manage the club.
There is always a concern when you come up against the more prestigious sides that some managers can become a little too negative, but not so on Saturday. Every opportunity for the Hibs players to attack was welcomed with open arms – a feature every supporter of their team goes to see.
Pat Fenlon’s men appear to have turned the corner and I am sure more of the home support will gradually return through the turnstiles which will help the players to enjoy their success even more.
West Ham’s ‘attacking pedigree’ left a lot to be desired on Saturday as they entertained Manchester City in the English Premiership. Sam Allardyce deployed a strategy of no recognised strikers in their positions out on the field and I really do fear for the modern day game. To ask your home supporters to pay astronomical prices to watch their side sit behind the ball with no intention of taking the game to the opposition must be extremely difficult to accept. What’s even more concerning is listening to some renowned media professionals sit back and applaud such a formation. I find this move quite astonishing if the truth be told.
Aberdeen make the long journey to Easter Road on Saturday in what is another huge tie for both clubs. Derek McInnes has got his players playing for one another and, despite not turning in flattering performances every week, they are also another side who continue to grind out the results. A win for Hibs over the Dons this weekend would propel them into a very handsome position indeed.