Pat Fenlon has told Hibs fans he won’t need anyone to tell him when it’s time to quit because he isn’t at Easter Road to fail.
The Irishman came under intense pressure as the Capital club made what, he admitted, was a disastrous start to the season, suffering the club’s worst defeat in Europe as they crashed 9-0 on aggregate to Malmo before losing their opening two Scottish Premiership games to Motherwell and Hearts.
However, chairman Rod Petrie backed his manager, making it clear there would be no knee-jerk reaction to calls for Fenlon to be sacked, while the boss himself insisted there was no cause for panic and that he’d hold true to his principles. He turned the tide with a run of six matches undefeated which was ended by table-topping Inverness at the weekend.
Both Petrie and Fenlon found themselves under fire from some shareholders during the club’s annual meeting last night, the chairman urged to set a “specific and quantifiable” target in terms of league position and cup runs, while the manager was criticised for what one individual described as a “negative style” of football.
While Petrie insisted the club’s first objective was to secure its future financially for coming generations and thereafter as a professional football club to “win matches,” Fenlon disagreed with the attack on the quality of play and told the 200-strong gathering that any questions regarding results should be directed at him and not the chairman. He said: “At the end of the day football is my responsibility. I know where we are at the moment is not good enough but from where I came in to where we are now I feel we have made progress.
“I will do as much as I can to turn it around. If it does not happen I won’t stay around to see failure. I know things have been difficult, the start of the season was a disaster and that’s down to me as manager, no-one else. It’s up to me to win football matches, if I don’t do that I won’t be here and I won’t need anyone to tell me I haven’t done my job.”
Despite Hibs’ slow start, Fenlon insisted that, having made ten signings over the summer, there were signs his team was coming together. He said: “I do not think we have been as good as we can be. We have a lot of new players and it takes time to settle and gel. We also have to chop and change because of injuries but I think there are signs it’s improving.
“Confidence is a big thing and you do see the lift the players get when they know the crowd is with them. I believe the club is going in the right direction but I guarantee if I cannot do that I will not hang around.”
Meanwhile, Paul Cairney scored a penalty as he continued his comeback from ankle ligament damage by helping Hibs Under-20s come from two goals down to beat Falkirk 4-2 in Livingston yesterday.
Jason Cummings took his tally for the season to 14 with a double while Cody Mulhall moved into double figures as Hibs went joint top of the table with Hamilton.