I must admit that the performance at Pittodrie was one of the most disappointing I’ve seen from a Hibs side in a number of years. We haven’t enjoyed vast amounts of success against Aberdeen on their own patch recently, but have at least offered more of a threat going forward than we did during yesterday’s stalemate.
We appeared to lack invention in the final third and never looked like testing Jamie Langfield, who enjoyed a comfortable 90 minutes. If we are to remain in a position to challenge for second spot come May, we must display a desire to earn three points.
We have shown from the start of the campaign that defensively we have improved considerably, but I think we need to carry a more offensive look to the side. I have always believed that a goalscorer from midfield, although hard to acquire, is a priority at any football club. Unfortunately, I don’t feel the players we possess in the middle of the park – or from the wide areas for that matter – are going to chip in with enough goals to take the pressure off the front two. This is an issue I hope is addressed within the next week before the transfer window closes for business. We’ve heard a number of players linked with the club over the past week or so, but the manager is remaining tight-lipped on any potential signing targets for the time being.
With this in mind, consistently dipping in and out of the loan market is unlikely to achieve the long-term strategy of the football club. There is certainly little continuity when it comes to securing players on loan and I find it concerning a club the size of Hibernian should be regularly having to deploy such an approach. I truly believed losing to our local rivals in last season’s Scottish Cup final when having so many loan signings on show would have put an end to this activity in the transfer market. Of course, it is fantastic to have a player of Leigh Griffiths’ potency within the side, but we should be doing all within our power to push through longer-term deals. I appreciate the financial constraints that are felt the length and breadth of the country, but it is important we attract the personnel that reflect the club’s ambitions.
If we are to continue to go down the loan-market route, then we should look to emulate English Championship side Watford, who are flying high under Gianfranco Zola. They have been able to acquire the perfect blend of quality players arriving from better clubs on loan alongside talents secured on long-term contracts. This policy has them fighting for promotion to the Premiership and is a loan strategy that teams like Hibs should aspire to if they go down that road.
The manager may now feel the side will benefit from a couple of personnel changes as familiarity can sometimes work against you. We have had the benefit of having a similar group of players to choose from week in, week out, but I feel it may be starting to take its toll on some of them. The contributions that have been made in the first half of the season are encouraging, but progression has to be our main priority before we slip back into old habits.
Pat Fenlon will be making every effort to ensure the club is stronger on the park going into a tricky period of the season. Yesterday’s draw against the Dons will have satisfied both Inverness and Motherwell, who will look to take advantage in their respective league fixtures.
We face a difficult trip to Dingwall on Wednesday night to face a Ross County side who have enjoyed the upper hand in the two previous occasions the sides have met. They are a difficult side to break down, but we must look to cause more of an attacking threat than was shown against Aberdeen.
Finally, Scottish Cup fever returns to Easter Road when we face Aberdeen again next Sunday. Let’s hope the atmosphere is just as electric as it was when we faced Hearts in the previous round.