If there is ever a time for everyone to pull together then the moment has arrived. It seems as if the negativity surrounding the club in the media last week has been carefully timed to cause as much drama as possible and put even more pressure on the players’ backs.
This, however, is the unfortunate world we live in and is something the squad will just have to deal with. Everybody knows the football played at Easter Road this season has been well below par and completely unacceptable by any means, but when outside influences start making a mountain out of a molehill in the press, I just hope the players can rise above it and show the determination to prove those people wrong.
The squad certainly doesn’t possess the quality we were blessed with a few years ago. The players need to be told a few home truths as the number of matches left to save our season is decreasing by the week. At the moment, the pressure of relegation is at its peak, where it affects even the most experienced pros of the game.
Any footballer or supporter feeling despondent after their team’s loss at the weekend should look at the events of last Saturday’s fixture between Bolton and Tottenham as millions watched Fabrice Muamba collapse out on the pitch. In all my time involved with football, I have never seen or heard as many people reach out to this young man. To witness a player aged 23 fighting for his life on the turf was truly horrific and certainly puts things in perspective. The great Bill Shankly once stated “football is more important than life itself”, a quote that the game’s fanatics have adhered to for many years. But I’m sorry Bill, you didn’t get many things wrong in your career, however, on this occasion I have to disagree.
The long journey to Inverness next Sunday will be one filled with nerves for the players, management and supporters of Hibernian. With only two games left until the split, I was hopeful a couple of victories would have put us in a healthier position in the league table at this point in time. Sadly, as we can all appreciate, this has not materialised. On Saturday we witnessed yet another home defeat with Dundee United the latest side to leave Easter Road with all three points, and not for the first time this season, we looked a beaten side after conceding the first goal. I understand confidence is low within the camp but if we head to Inverness feeling sorry for ourselves then the match is sure to end in defeat. We are all aware of the troubles we have had in the Highlands in the past so this won’t be an easy ride. However, we should take comfort in the fact we have already achieved a victory at this venue earlier in the season. If it wasn’t for the victories achieved away from Easter Road then I shudder to think of the position we would be in.
The manager doesn’t have a big squad to choose from but this may well be his most important team selection since he joined the club last November.
I felt throughout the defeat to Dundee United we were overpowered in certain areas of the pitch just as we were in the previous match with Hearts. This cannot happen again as Terry Butcher is not only a manager who knows how to exploit our frailties, he will also be drumming it into his own players the importance of this fixture as victory for the Highlanders would virtually ensure their safety in the SPL and leave us to fight it out with Dunfermline.
There are a number of issues that will have to be dealt with when the season ends but there is still a lot of football to be played before anything can be resolved. Hopefully by then we can look ahead to a more prosperous future and begin the new season having escaped from our biggest fear. It is an unpleasant period to be a supporter of the club but we must all remain positive and stick together.