Garry Parker: Hibs need to adopt Celtic mentality
Garry Parker has revealed he and Neil Lennon are determined to install the kind of winning mentality at Hibs they demanded when in charge of Celtic.
Lennon immediately went on record the day he was unveiled as Hibs’ new boss saying that even drawing matches, far less losing, would be unacceptable and now his right-hand man Parker has underlined the demand for consistency from a side which last season defeated a string of Premiership clubs – Aberdeen, Hearts, St Johnstone, Inverness Caley and Dundee United but managed to lose twice away to Dumbarton and at relegated Alloa Athletic.
In a Championship now devoid of Rangers, Parker believes Hibs will be seen as the team to stop, starting with an away trip to Falkirk, the side which pipped them to second place last season and then ended their promotion hopes in the play-offs.
He said: “Consistency is something we have to address and put right. We’ve got to beat teams like that (Dumbarton) without being disrespectful to them. We’ve got to go to these places and win. They’ll raise their game and we have to get used to that.
“It’s similar to Celtic in that we’re a big club in this league. Everyone raised their game at Celtic and we have to make sure the guys are right and if they are then we’ll win games.”
Parker firmly believes Hibs are in the wrong league, something he and Lennon are determined to put right. He said: “I watched a couple of games last season. I watched the Scottish Cup final and the play-offs against Falkirk. They’re [Hibs] a good side but obviously not good enough because they didn’t get promoted.
“They can score more goals and stop conceding them and they need to see games out because everyone in this league will be out to stop Hibs. We’re a big club in this division so we have to get that mentality right.”
While Lennon raised more than a few eyebrows when he decided to succeed Alan Stubbs following his surprise decision to join Rotherham only days after steering Hibs to that historic Scottish Cup triumph, Parker insisted both he and his long-standing pal are looking forward to the challenge ahead.
He said: “This is a great club. When we were in the SPL with Celtic they always gave us a good game. The facilities are very good, it’s a club in the wrong league and it’s up to us to get Hibs back in the Premieriship.
“That’s where they belong. The Scottish Cup win was good for the club but you need to be playing Rangers, Celtic, Aberdeen, Hearts every week and that’s what we have to do.”
And like Lennon, Parker has been impressed by what he has seen from the squad they inherited although the signing of vastly experienced striker Grant Holt has strengthened the squad. He said: “It’s been very good so far.
“The standard has been good, very good and the boys are working very hard. We need a couple of players but what we have seen so far is very good and with a couple of tweaks we should be alright.
“I think the players are trying to prove a point and show us what they are good at, their strengths. This is a fresh start and they are all fighting for their places.”
The Lennon-Parker combo was a huge success Celtic – including leading the Hoops into the last 16 of the Champions League – but not so as they moved to Bolton Wanderers where the Trotters’ financial problems put paid to any hope of succeeding in Lancashire.
But he believes the pair can maintain the upward swing the Capital club has enjoyed in the past couple of years after the shock of relegation threatened to pull it apart.
He said: “It’s the same relationship we had at Celtic, but the thing that makes us good is good players. If you have a winning team and you are doing well, the players make it easy.
“We did well at Celtic and went down to Bolton where things didn’t go do well. But you learn from your mistakes and we are back in Scotland and hungry to prove a point, that we can do the job. Bolton was a disaster. We went there and, in hindsight, we should have left after the first season.
“We were promised we could bring in quality and, instead, we found ourselves losing players and bringing in players who weren’t good enough. We had a weakened side in the second season, but you learn from it.
“Never again, it was a disaster from day one. We were told they would try to bring players in and try to get promoted to the Premier League, but those promises were broken. What can you do? You are fighting a losing battle when you lose the players who have performed week-in, week-out for you and are forced to bring in players that are not as good.”
Admitting he wouldn’t work with anyone other than Lennon, the 50-year-old said: “It is a partnership. I put the session on and he stands on the sidelines barking his orders. I’ll be the good guy - it’s a good combination.
“I’ve not seen much of a change in Neil, he can still be an angry man. There’s not much sign of him mellowing. If we are winning and people are working correctly, he’s happy. If not, then he is an angry man, as you’d expect. He’s good at man management and getting the players to believe in what he is doing.
“I’m the good cop, I’m the good guy. I can see the players and know how I want teams to play. I bring my ides to the table but we’re pretty similar. We’ll just do what we have been doing. We talk things through. Sometimes he’ll listen to me and sometimes he won’t. He’s the manager at the end of the day. He picks the team. At times he’s gone with my opinion – and it’s worked.”
Although his family live in Oxford, Parker insisted: “It doesn’t bother me. I’m here to work and do it properly. I’m happy to do what he’s been doing and when I saw the facilities I thought ‘let’s do it’.”