Terry Butcher won’t allow Hibs’ season to fade away, revealing today that he has demanded his players to shake off a four-game losing streak and force their way into the top six of the Scottish Premiership.
The Easter Road outfit have been in the firing line since crashing out of the Scottish Cup, beaten by Championship side Raith Rovers. But while conceding he was bitterly disappointed that the dream of making a third successive final had been dashed, Butcher believes his players can recapture the form which saw them lose just once in his first nine matches in charge.
Butcher believes the Capital club still have much to play for, the immediate target being a place in the upper half of the table when the “split” takes place in nine matches’ time.
Labelling each of those games a “Cup final” in itself, he said: “We want to be in the top six and to do that we have to win a lot of games and give it a right go.
“We can still salvage something from this season, which is a place in the top six. That would be a great achievement and something worth aiming for. To do that we need to be together and singing from the same hymn sheet. I don’t want our season to fade away, that’s not what we want to be about.
“Anybody that knows me will tell you I drive everyone on to the very end because there are football matches to be played, fans pay their money and deserve the best we can give.”
Butcher revealed both he and his players endured a sleepless night following their humbling by Raith, adamant they’d shown how much they cared about what had happened by the fact several spent hours texting each other.
“Even after several glasses of red on Saturday night I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “A lot of the players were exactly the same and were texting each other in the middle of the night. They were concerned, there is a real hurt among them because of the performance and the way we went out of the cup. You don’t really hear much about how the players call each other and speak to each other about games so that shows you how much they care.”
And Butcher refuted the suggestion that, following a “honeymoon period,” his squad had simply “reverted to type” in recent weeks. “Our ambition is to win every game, these nine matches, and to do that we need clear heads, to make sure we do not panic because we have shown when that does happen we are not a good team, simple as that.
“But they can be a very good team and they have shown that more times than the other way. If they had not done that before, that unbeaten run, beating Hearts, I would be concerned, but I am not. I am disappointed and frustrated but optimistic as well, looking forward to the next nine matches very much because we want to show everyone this is a good team, a good squad.
“We went on a really good run when we came in and now we are on a really poor run. That happens to any team, but these are the same players. There have not been many time when I can say our players haven’t been bang at it. There’s a lot of times they have. That is an indication they can do it. Now they have to. We need to in order to rescue this season.
“But we have to get back to what we were doing before. The players said that as well. We want to be a tough, uncompromising team to beat, which we were.”