Hibs striker Christian Doidge: Celtic match proves we’re not a soft touch

Hibs striker Christian Doidge admitted he and his team-mates were stung after being branded “soft and weak” - but insisted their battling performance against champions Celtic showed they are anything but.

Monday, 30th September 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st October 2019, 2:46 am
Christian Doidge shows the determination of the Hibs side in this challenge by Christopher Jullien

The Easter Road outfit became the first side to take points from the Hoops this season, Doidge’s early shot which deflected into his own net by Kristoffer Ajer cancelled out by a Ryan Christie header in an ill-tempered match in which eight players were booked and Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom ordered to the stand. The 1-1 draw came only days after the club had clinched a Betfred Cup semi-final place, winning a sudden death penalty shoot-out away to Kilmarnock but, claimed Doidge, those displays were evidence of the hard work being put in on the training ground was finally being rewarded.

“I think some teams probably thought we were a soft touch at the start of the season,” said Doidge. “But the last two games have proved we’re anything but soft.

“Obviously the Kilmarnock game was really tough, 120 minutes before we managed to get through on penalties.

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“Then we were up against Celtic, maybe the best team in Scotland, and that was always going to be a hard game; there’s a lot of money out there on that pitch. We definitely played really well.

“It did hurt, being called soft and weak. You never want that thrown at you, as a football team. We train every day, train really hard, so to have that said about you is not nice. We’ve worked really hard to prove ourselves and it showed in the last two games.”

Those back-to-back results have eased the heat on Heckingbottom, the pressure having been building on the Yorkshireman as Hibs slid towards the foot of the Premiership table but, insisted Doidge, he had never lost the full backing of his players.

He said: “Everyone at the football club likes the gaffer, we like everything he’s doing. He brought me to the club and I think he’s improving me, as a player, every day on the training pitch. It’s hard to see that, the fans protesting. But we’re a team. We all lose together.

“It was a bit harsh, him getting all the criticism when the whole team deserved it. But I’ve no doubt we’ll be successful under him.

“There is nothing in my mind that suggests anything else. I really like him as a manager and really like working for him.

“I just like the way he works on the training pitch, everything he does. I haven’t played for many managers who are so thorough in the little details that improve you.

“It’s just little things like saving your running, getting into the right position – things you probably don’t see from afar.

“We do a lot of work after training, watch a lot of video. It’s a different way of coaching and, personally, I’m really enjoying it.”