Pat FENLON today revealed his desire to return the fear factor to Easter Road, insisting opposition teams no longer regard a visit to the home of Hibs with a sense of trepidation.
The Edinburgh outfit have managed to win just one SPL match on their own turf all season, the 3-2 victory over St Johnstone in September their only such triumph since Inverness Caley were defeated in Leith almost a year ago.
It is a miserable statistic and one which goes a long way to explaining why Hibs currently languish near the foot of the SPL table just a point ahead of basement outfit Dunfermline.
But now Fenlon is looking for his side to build on a William Hill Scottish Cup win over Kilmarnock and a draw against Aberdeen, both results achieved with a clean sheet, although he admitted the visit of league leaders Celtic on Sunday represents a “big ask”.
Neil Lennon and his players will pitch up at Easter Road knowing the title is almost certainly theirs, the ten-point deduction imposed on arch-rivals Rangers as they plunged into administration this week leaving the Hoops 14 points clear at the top with only 12 matches remaining.
Nevertheless, Fenlon has recognised the importance of ensuring visiting teams once again regard a trip to Leith as one of the most problematic on their fixture list.
He said: “I know from years previously that the likes of Celtic and Rangers did not like coming to Easter Road and that’s something we have to get back to, that when they look at the calendar they say: ‘That’s a difficult fixture.’
“I think over the last couple of years they have probably looked at it and said it’s not that difficult a fixture so we have to get back to making it just that.”
While admitting he was disappointed not to have beaten Aberdeen – arguing his players had created enough chances to do so – Fenlon believes he detected a different atmosphere around Easter Road.
He said: “Previously dropping points at home, as people would have seen it, to Aberdeen and in the position we are in it would have been negative.
“But the players got a good ovation coming off and I think the supporters looked at it, a 0-0 draw, and recognised we had a right good go at winning it.
“We said to the players that the fans watch every week and that if they are working as hard as they can to get a result they can sometimes live with it when it doesn’t go your way.”