Pat FENLON admits there is no hiding his disappointment over the possibility of Hibs’ top-six hopes being extinguished tonight, six months after their early-season renaissance briefly took them to the top of the SPL.
The Easter Road side were the main challengers to champions-elect Celtic in the opening months of the campaign and commanded second place up until early December.
However, after a run of only one league victory in 11 games since the turn of the year saw them slip to ninth place, victory for Kilmarnock over St Mirren at Rugby Park tonight will officially consign Fenlon’s side to playing out the remainder of the campaign in the botom six, as Hibs would be four points behind the sixth-placed Ayrshire club with one pre-split game remaining.
The frustrated manager admits finishing in the top half of the table was the main objective this season and feels his stuttering team should not have allowed the situation to drift out of their own control.
“There’s a frustration that it’s all out of our hands,” Fenlon told the Evening News. “There’s no point saying otherwise. I said at the start we’d like to be in the top six so if we don’t do that I’ll be disappointed.
“We had a good first half to the season but the second half hasn’t been as bright and we’ve tailed off a bit in the last few months, which is really disappointing.”
If Hibs do end up finishing in the bottom six, Fenlon insists there will be no chance of his side feeling sorry for themselves and downing tools. “Come Saturday, if we’re not in the shake-up for the top six, we’ll still have plenty to play for,” he said. “The next target would be to finish at the top of the bottom six, and we still have a Scottish Cup semi-final to look forward to.
“From a personal point of view, I’ll be very disappointed if we’re not in the top six, because we’ve worked hard enough and that was the target.”