There is nothing more frustrating as a professional footballer than when decisions go against you in a fixture which could prove pivotal in deciding your fate come the end of the season.
The decision to award Aberdeen a penalty on Saturday was soft, to say the least, and only the referee knows why he gave it. Unfortunately these are the kinds of decisions that work against you when things aren’t quite going according to plan. The defeat at the weekend has now mounted even more pressure on the backs of the players to secure three points against Dundee United. I hope the decision to award Aberdeen a penalty kick can revitalise a determination to put a winning run together as we look to begin 2012 in a more positive frame of mind.
Although we assembled a side that appeared quite compact using two sitting midfielders to protect the back four, we never displayed much of a threat in the final third with Garry O’Connor finding it tough going playing in the lone position up top. I believe that clean sheets are always a welcome bonus in any game, but adopting this sort of mentality isn’t going to be enough to see us move away from the lower depths of the SPL. In my opinion, the real art lies in how you attack teams; there should be a desire to go and win games by scoring goals. We are now at a critical stage in the season and failure to take our chances could prove costly in our battle to beat the drop.
Trying to gain the initiative in the early stages of our next couple of fixtures is something we should be looking to achieve. Had we taken this approach against Aberdeen then we may well have seen a completely different outcome from the match. We created our best opportunity in front of goal after introducing a second striker into the fray and this surely must be considered for next week’s trip to Tannadice.
The January transfer window is always an interesting way to begin the new year where clubs look for a late Christmas gift by adding that little bit of quality which has perhaps been lacking throughout the early part of the season. I know the manager has stated he won’t make any rash signings for the sake of bringing in new faces but I remain hopeful Fenlon and his coaching staff have identified some potential in the market that can reignite the spark at Easter Road. There have been several managers who have earned their reputation from transfer activity where one or two decent acquisitions can change the whole make-up of the squad overnight.
For example, Harry Redknapp is one figure who has proved invaluable to the clubs he has managed with his ability to strengthen within the means available to him. His long tenure at Bournemouth first drew attention to his credentials where he is now being rewarded as the number one candidate to replace Fabio Capello as the next man to lead England.
With regards to the player recruitment process at Hibs, I am not one usually in favour of bringing players in on short-term contracts, however, we may not have a choice if it means we manage to retain our SPL status in the final few weeks of the season next May.
We should be targeting players who are hungry to further their careers by giving them an opportunity in what is becoming a desperate situation. If we can bring freshness into the squad then this might just prove to be the tonic we need to rejuvenate the spirits.
Reflecting on what might have been is a pointless exercise to undertake as you are unable to modify the events that have come and gone. You can, however, restore some pride by showing your worth to the cause which, at this moment in time, is trying to keep Hibernian FC in the division where they belong.