Terry Butcher is thrilled by the rapid progress Hibs have made in less than two months – but the manager has challenged his players to add to the “enormous” positives when they visit high-flying Aberdeen on Friday night.
The Easter Road outfit have surged into the top six after losing just once – away to Celtic – in eight league games since Butcher and his assistant Maurice Malpas took over from Pat Fenlon on November 12.
And even the disappointment of seeing his side surrender a two-goal lead against Dundee United to pass up the chance of racking up a fourth successive league win failed to take the shine off a sparkling run of form over the festive period from which Hibs emerged unbeaten in five matches, taking 11 points out of a possible 15.
Although he admitted the mental and physical exertions of the derby victory over Hearts had taken its toll in the final 15 minutes at Tannadice, Butcher said: “I was delighted with the way the players played.
“They put a lot of effort into the game, we started very well, settled down in the first half and when we got the penalty you are thinking ‘That’s great’, but the last 15 minutes told on them because they had put so much into the derby.”
The tiredness which crept in did, Butcher conceded, lead to poor decision-making as David Goodwillie and Brian Graham cancelled out Liam Craig’s double, although United did adopt a more direct approach.
The Hibs boss said: “They had that little bit of luck when it mattered, they took their chances and fair play to them.
“They bombed men and the ball forward a lot quicker, route one football and that gave them the point, but when you step back and look at it you would perhaps have settled for a point before the game, I’m not too sure. But when you are 2-0 up you want three points.
“Overall, though, we are definitely making progress. We are scoring goals, we’ve averaged two a game in our last four matches, possibly more. We’re creating chances and working hard, so I think the players can draw a lot of credit from their performance.
“We are picking up points in a good sequence of undefeated matches, so I think there’s nothing but positives. The only negative is we conceded two goals, but the positives are enormous – we’ve taken another step forward and we’ll be looking to build on that for Aberdeen on Friday.”