PAT FENLON today warned his Easter Road stars they have no time to wallow in self-pity if they are to win their fight to beat the drop after watching Hibs crash to their worst home defeat in more than quarter of a century.
The 5-0 hammering by Celtic was, the Irishman admitted, probably Hibs’ poorest performance since he succeeded Colin Calderwood, one which leaves the Edinburgh outfit separated from SPL basement outfit Dunfermline by just four goals.
And it was the heaviest defeat Hibs have suffered at their own ground since Celtic blitzed five past Alan Rough on September 7, 1987, Fenlon conceding his players had been guilty of gifting the champions elect “three, maybe four” of their goals.
Now Fenlon faces the huge task of lifting his players for Wednesday night’s trip to face Motherwell at Fir Park, the original game which would officially have been his first in charge of Hibs having been abandoned because of floodlight failure at the beginning of December, with the Capital side a goal ahead through Garry O’Connor.
Fenlon was in Lanarkshire to watch Stuart McCall’s players thump Hearts on Saturday despite having captain Keith Lasley sent off and knows his side have to lift themselves – and quickly – if they are to take anything from a night on which the Pars visit Celtic Park. The Hibs boss said: “Motherwell are playing really well. I saw them against Hearts and they were excellent so we cannot dwell on it [the defeat] and mope around. We have to get on with it.
“They [the players] have to realise why we are in the position. If you look at the table and what that says it is too important for anyone to be getting too down. They have to get themselves lifted, we will do our best to get them up and at it because it is a difficult ground.”
Having seen his side clock up back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in a year against Kilmarnock and Aberdeen, Fenlon was dismayed to see Hibs fall apart having made the brighter start against Celtic.
Again defensive frailties were exposed as former Easter Road star Anthony Stokes powered in to head home the opener, Gary Hooper adding two more either side of a Charlie Mulgrew free-kick two minutes into the second half before Sung Yueng Ki inadvertently diverted Kris Commons’ wayward shot past Graham Stack.
Fenlon said: “We started the game really, really well and with 15 minutes gone we probably looked the better side. But the opening goal deflates our lads. Take nothing away from them, they played well but we also gifted them three, maybe four, of the goals. It was probably the worst performance we have had but now we have to focus on what is ahead, and that’s picking up points.”
Hibs lost Matt Doherty at half-time, the on-loan Wolves defender needing stitches above his eye after a clash with Stokes which provoked an angry exchange between Fenlon and Celtic coach Alan Thompson, referee Craig Thomson stepping in to calm the row.
Today, though, Fenlon insisted he felt the incident was more accidental than deliberate.