Hibs boss Terry Butcher today called on his players to be “brave and strong” as they face the expected backlash from a Celtic side hurting after being crushed 6-1 by Barcelona.
Neil Lennon’s team have been used to dishing out such hammerings recently, demolishing Hearts 7-0 at Tynecastle and then destroying Motherwell 5-0 at Fir Park but were on the receiving end in the Nou Camp, an experience which prompted Butcher to comment: “Welcome to our world.”
But while insisting Barcelona were capable of inflicting such a defeat on virtually any club in the world, Butcher is well aware Celtic bounced back from previous Champions League setbacks to trounce Scottish Premiership opposition, Ross County and Aberdeen feeling their wrath after defeat by Ajax and then Hearts and Motherwell suffering in the wake of being beaten by AC Milan.
And he knows that once again Lennon will be demanding a response from his players, saying: “It’s not nice to lose six goals and it’s not nice that they could have conceded more. They will be hurting and, judging by the comments from Neil, he’ll be hurting.”
However, Butcher insisted his focus was on what Hibs can do at Celtic Park rather than being over-concerned at how Lennon’s side will react. Admitting that with the Capital club being the lowest scorers in the league – just ten goals in 15 matches – many will see a no-scoring draw as the best Hibs can hope for, Butcher said: “I never see it like that. I think we should play a certain way. We’ve talked to the players about our game plan and they are happy with it.
“We will certainly be hard to beat, hard to break through and then we will see where we go after that. But we have players who want to attack, who want to score and I think if we can put good crosses into the box like we have done in our last three games and have a belief then we have a good chance of scoring. And if we score who knows?
“I think when you play against Celtic you will get time to play, you will get opportunities to go and pass the ball, the chance to build up an attack. It’s what you show when you get the ball, the qualities you show on the ball by being brave, by moving, passing the ball well and by being alert and sharp.
“Against Celtic it’s not what you do when you don’t have the ball, but what you do when you have it. If we move well, pass well and are brave and strong then hopefully we can keep the ball for long periods and see what happens.”