Danny Swanson rates Hibs as better than former club Saints
Danny Swanson helped St Johnstone leapfrog Hearts into fourth place in the Premiership table and now he's aiming to put one over on the Jambos again.
And while he believes team spirit played a huge part in the McDiarmid Park outfit qualifying for the Europa League yet again, the midfielder insisted there’s plenty of that at Easter Road to go with a bit more quality.
Although Hibs are returning to the top flight after a three year absence, Swanson, boss Neil Lennon’s first summer signing, is adamant momentum is very much in their favour, sensing a renewed optimism as he walks the streets of Leith.
Joking that he’s recognised far more often now he’s finally made his dream move, the 30-year-old lifelong Hibs fan enjoyed more of that feelgood factor as he took to the stage this week to help launch the club’s new home and away kit and a DVD “Hibernian Reborn” which charts their Championship winning season.
He said: “I’d never done anything like that before but I really enjoyed it. There’s a massive buzz about the place, about Leith.
“You see so many Hibs strips on the streets, it’s great. I’m just really excited and can’t wait to get started.”
While Lennon is on record as claiming his side can be the “best of the rest”, some of his squad, while not knocking their manager’s claim, have been a little more circumspect, arguing that top six should be the aim before “taking it from there”.
However, it goes without saying that finishing above what will be a much changed Hearts side would be prize enough for many Hibs supporters.
Swanson, who spent just five months at Tynecastle, said: “I think we will be there or thereabouts. I finished above Hearts at St Johnstone so hopefully I can do it again.
“I wasn’t at Saints when they played Hibs in the League Cup but the boys told me they were very impressed with them, that they’d run all over them.
“I think Saints are a different animal, it’s more team spirit. But we’ve got that here with more quality.”
Like all Hibs fans Swanson suffered as they were relegated three years ago, admitting he shared the anger everyone felt as Terry Butcher’s side spiralled down the table before eventually dropping through the trapdoor as they were beaten in the play-off by Hamilton.
He does, though, believe the pain has proved to be worth it, saying: “I watched those play-off games on television.
“After the first leg you are thinking ‘happy days’ with Hibs 2-0 up but following the second I was very angry, that would be the word to use.
“I wasn’t at the club, obviously, but it was still a massive thing for me. I was so sad, a lot of my good friends are die-hard Hibs fans who had paid their money every week.
“Hopefully it will never happen again but perhaps they needed it. In the previous few seasons they had just been getting by in the league, really doing little more than just making up the numbers.
“Now they’ve won the Scottish Cup, which was unimaginable, that helped massively and now they have come back up. The momentum is there, we’re attracting good players and there’s an excitement.
“You can see there’s a bond between the players and the fans. You see that after every game in the way the players always go to the supporters to show their appreciation.
“We’re not going back up to make up the numbers as we were. I’m an ambitious player. I want to win trophies, I don’t like losing so I am going to give my all.
“It means everything to play for Hibs and I’m not going to let this opportunity pass me by. No chance.”