Hibs striker Oli Shaw: Pressure on me to score goals '“ but I relish it
He may only be 20, but Hibs striker Oli Shaw has insisted his shoulders are broad enough to take the flak head coach Neil Lennon has fired at his players.
Lennon let rip as the first half of the season came to an end with the Easter Road club having slipped to eighth in the Premiership table, singling out his frontmen as chances were scorned and the goals dried up.
Swiss hitman Flo Kamberi in particular came in for some stinging criticism but Shaw is adamant his tender years don’t excuse him from what Lennon has levelled at his squad.
He said: “Criticism is part of the game. Age doesn’t make you exempt. I want to take as much responsibility as anyone else and it’s a striker’s job to go out and score goals for Hibs to win games.
“You get paid to score goals. Ultimately, it’s your job. We are struggling that wee bit. We hit the bar and post against Hearts when, on another day, they might have gone in and goalkeepers have had a few good games.
“But it is what it is. We look forward to second half and hope to improve on the goalscoring. That’s why the club pays us. Ultimately, it’s my job.
“As a young player, I’ll take that responsibility. I want to have it. I feel I can relish things under pressure and, if the manager has a go, I take it on the chin and try to use it to improve.
“If you score a goal, you can be the hero.”
Shaw has scored five goals so far this term, matching his tally for last season when he announced his breakthrough for the first team with back-to-back goals against Celtic, scoring in the Betfred Cup semi-final at Hampden and then as Hibs came within a whisker of ending the Hoops then long, unbeaten run.
However, having notched three by mid-August, Shaw has claimed only two since. While disappointed by that statistic, the youngster claimed he’s reasonably happy with how things have gone for him.
He said: “I felt I started off well, but then picked up wee injuries and was in and out of the team a bit.
“The last month or so has been good for me. I’ve enjoyed it. The gaffer has thrown me into some big games and I’ve relished the occasions.
“The only disappointing thing is that I haven’t scored as many goals as I would have liked but, over the piece, I’m pretty pleased.
“Strikers play on confidence but, even if I’m not scoring, the gaffer seems to have belief in me that I can offer other things to the team and that is, of course, a bonus.
“If you are doing that, you get into the big games and I’m learning a lot.”
Shaw accepts that after scoring those two goals against Celtic many fans would have been looking for great things from him but, he insisted, it’s a matter of having patience as he gains experience, confident that, in time, he’ll be a regular on the scoresheet.
“I needed to stay grounded,” he said. “As a youngster and there are ups and downs. You can’t take away the moment from me when I scored my first goal for Hibs against Celtic at Hampden. That was important for me and my family.
“People might think you just go to the top after that, but it’s not how it works. There is hard work and there are obstacles in the way. The opposition want to stop you scoring. It’s hard.
“People watch you to see your strengths and weaknesses. It’s the same with our video team and I’ll look at opponents the same way.
“But, as a young player coming into the first-team environment, you want people looking at you.”
Shaw has the benefit of father Greg having been a striker with a string of clubs such as Ayr United, Falkirk, Dunfermline, Airdrie and Berwick Rangers but, he revealed, Arsenal and France hitman Thierry Henry is the player he tries to model himself on.
He said “I was bought an Arsenal strip when I was younger and a birthday present I received one year was to go down there for a match.
“It was just when the Emirates opened. I think it was against Wolves.
“I had already followed Henry and took it onto his Barcelona days when he left Arsenal.
“He was the ultimate. I had video clips of him in the house when I was younger and I would watch them. The poster was on the wall. Remember you got those Match of the Day magazines and there were posters in there? You try to mirror your game on the best players.
“Obviously, football runs in my family and my dad was very big on these things about telling me to watch the big games and the big players. The coaches here tell you the same thing.
“You watch guys in your position and try to learn any little thing that you can.
“Being a young player going into a first team, you are attempting to mirror what they do and it can only help.
“The slightest of margins can make all of the difference, so you try to find something.
“Henry’s pace and finishing made him the best for me. He never tended to blast things, he placed things. He knew what he was doing and was composed in front of the goal.
“He was direct and scored important goals. That’s what attached me to him.”