Terry Butcher has urged his players to give him something to shout about rather than leaving him sounding like a broken record spouting the same old stuff after each match.
The Englishman knows the supporters want to be raving about their team, not listening to the manager talking of “looking for a reaction” following another disappointing result.
The “baby steps” of progress which he claimed the Edinburgh club had been making now feel a long time ago in the wake of that “unacceptable” performance in which Hibs were taken apart by Dundee United a week ago.
As bad as that display might have been, though, Butcher argued the embarrassing Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Championship outfit Raith Rovers a couple of weeks earlier had been even more disappointing, a day when, in his estimation, Hibs “were just not at the races”.
However, despite the ease with which United won, Butcher insisted there had been no long-term damage done to Hibs’ hopes of making the Scottish Premiership’s top six for the first time in four seasons, with their rivals for that sixth place, St Johnstone, having themselves suffered a defeat the following day at Pittodrie.
As such the status quo prevails, with Saints three points ahead with six matches remaining before the split. Butcher hopes the Easter Road side will have turned up the heat on the Perth club by the time the sides meet at McDiarmid Park in a fortnight’s time.
And with Tommy Wright’s players in Scottish Cup action against Raith tomorrow, Hibs have the chance to haul themselves level with a victory against Motherwell.
The Fir Park side, who used to be managed by Butcher, are themselves desperate for the points as they seek to close the gap on second-placed Aberdeen, who are bidding to take another step towards a Cup double.
Tomorrow’s match has been brought forward with both Hibs and Motherwell having suffered Scottish Cup shocks – the Fir Park side were knocked out by Albion Rovers in December – but as both Butcher and his Lanarkshire counterpart Stuart McCall would undoubtedly agree, the exercise will only have proved worthwhile if their respective team emerges victorious.
Having suffered successive defeats by United and St Johnstone, conceding six goals in the process, Motherwell bounced back by demolishing Hearts 4-1 last weekend, with James McFadden, a player Butcher knows well from his time at Fir Park, the tormentor in chief of Gary Locke’s side.
“I’ve watched the Hearts game,” said Butcher, “and Motherwell certainly have players who, if you allow them to play will hurt you.
“Faddy had an excellent game against Hearts although he was allowed a lot of space to play. He won’t go past you in terms of pace, but he will take you on, nutmeg you and get past you that way. Players like him, Iain Vigurs, Keith Lasley and young Jack Leitch love the ball at their feet. They’ve got the pace of Lionel Ainsworth, the strength of John Sutton, a good spine to the team.”
Leitch is the son of former Motherwell and Hearts player Scott, a fact Butcher intends to point out to Lasley, Stevie Hammell and McFadden, all youngsters themselves when he was boss at Fir Park. He joked: “I’ll be asking them how old do they feel to find themselves playing with Scott’s son.”
On a more serious note, though, Butcher admitted he had plenty of good memories of Motherwell but he insisted that won’t be a factor tomorrow.
He said: “I’ve got a lot of good history with Motherwell, a smashing club.
“But I have enjoyed beating them as well so don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stand back and admire them, I want to get into them, to beat them and get back on the winning trail at Easter Road.”
And to that end, Butcher wants to see his players regain the form they were showing around the turn of the year. He said: “I don’t want to be talking the same old stuff, that we’ve had a talk with the players, that they’ve bounced back, trained really well and we are getting a reaction.
“I hate that. I want to be talking as we were after the Ross County and Kilmarnock matches at home where we won, were strong, resilient and scored goals.
“That’s what makes it exciting and enjoyable for me and for the fans in particular. They have suffered a lot and I do not want to see them suffer.
“I hate it, I do not like going in after games trying to explain why we have lost, I want to go in and say we have won, that we’ve done this and that well.
“I can say all this about how much we care and how much it hurts, but that’s little consolation for the fans. All they want to see is the team do well. It affects your whole week, let alone your Saturday night.
“It would be nice to be like Sheffield United, having won our last eight games.
“It would be great to be in that position where you are on a winning streak, which we were early on when we came in and at the turn of the year.
“You have to work hard to keep on a winning streak, perhaps we did not work hard enough to do just that and when it comes to an end it’s hard to get back on it.”