Alan Stubbs today insisted the pressure is on Hearts ahead of Sunday’s derby, with the expectations of the Tynecastle support heightened by their victory over Championship favourites Rangers at Ibrox.
But the Hibs head coach was adamant his players are quietly confident as they prepare to head across the city, buoyed by their opening-day win against Livingston and aware of how well they themselves had played in Govan only a few days earlier, the Easter Road outfit only going out of the Petrofac Training Cup in extra-time after Danny Handling had been sent off.
“I’m not looking in to Hearts beating Rangers too much to be honest,” he said, “Over 90 minutes we created more chances [against Rangers] than Hearts; I don’t think there was an awful lot in the game.
“Hearts came out victorious after 90. We didn’t lose the game in that time but with it being a cup game over 120 minutes we did, but even so we have taken a lot of positives from it. The onus, the main pressure will be on Hearts to come at us, to try to take the game to us, they are the team at home, cheered on by their own fans who will be expecting to win.
“But we will have a game plan and go about it in our own way, our own style.”
Stubbs accepted his side will be seen by many as the under-dogs given that Hearts dominated the derby fixtures last season but, he insisted, that’s in the past with his players having an entirely different mindset to go with their new style of play.
He said: “I have to say I sometimes get the impression it was only Hibs that went down last season. Hearts went down as well but there is a lot more negativity around Hibs than Hearts which I find probably unjust.
“But we are focusing on what we can do, the impact we are going to have on the game and come Sunday. I know the players will be ready to do themselves justice.”
Stubbs may be a veteran of such matches – he played in 19 Old Firm games, ten Merseyside derbies and even one Tyne-Wear showdown – but he is looking forward to his first as a manager.
He said: “They are always great occasions where it is all about local pride. It’s got the makings of a great game in front of a full house. We’ve sold our allocation of tickets, Hearts have done likewise so it will be a terrific atmosphere. It’s also one that’s completely different from my point of view, my first as a manager and to have it so early on is something I am really looking forward to.
“I am hoping very much that come the end of the 90 minutes I am going to be enjoying it even more.”
Stubbs revealed he won’t be taking his interest in Estonian midfielder Albert Taar any further, the 24-year-old having already returned home despite his agent claiming he’d be on trial with Hibs until Monday.
Meanwhile, Hibs prices for their League Cup tie against Dumbarton at Easter Road on Tuesday, August 26, will be £15 (adults) and £5 (concessions).