I have to admit, I am glad to see Partick Thistle back up towards the peak of Scottish football after what has been quite a journey for the club’s players, management and supporters. You only have to study the club’s history to know that their place in the top tier has been long overdue.
Great names such as Alan Hansen, Maurice Johnston and a former team-mate of mine, Alan Rough, who served both Scotland and Hibs, are just some of the faces that spring to mind.
Even through the club’s challenges in the lower divisions, Firhill has always proved a notoriously difficult venue to pick up all three points and this is why the task facing the Hibs players tonight will be a daunting one. The defeat to Inverness last weekend was hugely frustrating for all concerned and Pat Fenlon most certainly expressed his annoyance after being on such a good run of late, a performance that is not acceptable at a club like Hibs.
I don’t believe the date of this particular fixture has been considered by the bosses at the top end of the scale. Of course, I appreciate these matches are dictated by the TV giants of today, but for Hibs supporters in particular, travelling through to Glasgow on a Monday night is certainly not ideal, far from it. Aberdeen supporters experienced the brunt of it last Monday as they picked up a point in Paisley against St Mirren, but this is a topic of discussion that has carried on now for many seasons without any alternative solutions creeping in. Once again, it’s the supporters who bear the brunt of such complete lack of consideration from the powers that be.
Our opponents tonight are a very young and attack-minded side, who perhaps lack the experience at this level and this is something we must look to capitalise on. We possess a quantity of players who are seasoned professionals. Players including Kevin Thomson, Paul Heffernan and Michael Nelson, should all be capable of dictating play over the opposition.
Our goal threat over the last couple of weeks, aside from the Inverness result, has been reasonably clinical, and our strikers have shown they can pounce on the chances given to them in front of goal if we provide quality service.
Partick have made a reasonable start to life back in the top division and this must be respected, but not feared. If we are looking to cement our position as a top-half side then these are the games we must take maximum points. With a number of important fixtures on the horizon, including a League Cup derby at the end of this month, victory over the Jags would be a welcome boost for the Easter Road men as we bid to rediscover a winning habit at just the right time.
I was very interested to read, as I would assume the majority of Hibs supporters were, last week’s issues to arise from the annual general meeting with the club’s shareholders. Rod Petrie, of course spoke at great length on a number of points, but I was intrigued to learn about some querying the success of the training centre opened at East Mains almost six years ago. I think supporters are entitled to reinforce the low figures of talent emerging from the academy in recent seasons, but building such a facility, I must point out, does not guarantee a conveyor belt of football stars of the future. This investment was made in pursuit of developing and nurturing the next generation of players equipped to play for the first team, but this cannot simply happen overnight.
I would agree it is most disappointing to acknowledge that some of the younger players have not made the impact we perhaps hoped, but we must be realistic in our estimations and focus on what we have.