Don't judge Hibs on Aberdeen clash, says boss Neil Lennon
The Capital club, the Dons and Rangers were involved in a three-way battle for second place in the Premiership table until the penultimate day of last season, Derek McInnes’ men going on to take that runners-up spot behind Celtic for the fourth year in succession.
However, rather than anticiapte a re-run of that drama, Lennon believes it’s far too early for anyone to be making predictions or setting goals, pointing out that most sides are still in a state of flux as their squads take on a new look for the coming campaign.
Lennon himself is having to contend with the loss of Hibs’ two most influential players, Dylan McGeouch and John McGinn, but he believes the Easter Road support are realistic and recognise that he simply can’t go replacing like-for-like as he reshapes his squad with new arrivals such as Stevie Mallan, Emerson Hyndman, Daryl Horgan and Thomas Agyepong while his latest acquisition, Australian internationalist Mark Milligan, is still awaiting a work permit.
He said: “I have no targets at the minute. I will know what the squad is at the end of August and then we can refocus. It’s really early in the season. People make these sweeping statements and judgments after three games and it’s way too early for that.
“I couldn’t have foreseen the second half of the season we had last year, so you can’t really judge it. In England, (Jose) Mourinho is under pressure after two games. It’s ridiculous. Everyone has an opinion and there is so much hype and hysteria in the game now. It is all about instant gratification.
“In an ideal world, you want to hit the ground running. We have had a decent start wtih four points from six. We will face a tough test from Aberdeen tomorrow, but it won’t be a benchmark for us. It’s far too early in the season.”
Lennon has described both McGeouch, who joined Sunderland under freedom of contract, and McGinn, sold to Aston Villa for £2.75 million, as irreplaceable, but feels the Hibs fans accept that’s the case, saying: “It was inevitable that John was going to go. It was good business for the club and made sense.
“We got a good fee for him and it was impossible to halt his progress.
“I don’t think there are too many fans out there who will think I could go and get a replica of John McGinn for £1500 a week – it’s not going to happen.
“So we will look elsewhere. We’ve brought players in and we’re trying to bed them in. We may have to adapt. We’ll see how that goes but I am excited about it.”
Pointing out that rival clubs such as Aberdeen and Hearts are also trying to compensate for the loss of key players, Lennon added: “I think eight or ten games will give us a better idea of where we are. Maybe even not that. Maybe after five or eight you will have a fair idea of how the first part of the season at least is going to pan out.
“We’ve had the European games and we’ve done okay domestically with the four points and the win against Ross County. Now it is time for settling in and trying to get everyone up to speed and sync with what we want to do.”