JORDON FORSTER witnessed a side of Terry Butcher he had never seen before as the Hibs boss ripped into his players for the first time after watching Aberdeen defeat the Hibees 1-0 last Friday.
It wasn’t so much Willo Flood’s goal that sparked the big Englishman’s ire, but more the performance that his side had produced, accusing them of having fallen well short of the standard they’d displayed as they’d slowly but surely hauled themselves up the Scottish Premiership league table.
As expected, he wasn’t slow to make his feelings known as a few home truths were aired behind that firmly-closed dressing-room door before Butcher shared his feelings with a wider audience.
But while he fully expects to see Butcher blow his stack again, 20-year-old Forster admitted he hopes that day is a long way off, aiming to put the smile back on his manager’s face by taking all three points against St Mirren tomorrow.
“We’d been on a good run since drawing against St Mirren in the gaffer’s first game back in November,” Forster told the Evening News. “There had only been one defeat at Celtic Park until last Friday and we wanted to keep things going.
“Unfortunately it didn’t quite happen for us and I think we only had ourselves to blame. We didn’t play well enough on the night and although we almost nicked a point, I’m not sure we deserved anything from the game.
“When you don’t play well, you expect the manager to let you know. He let us have it. You are not going to play perfectly every week and get the three points, but I think that’s why he is such a good manager. He picks the right moment to let you know when you haven’t done well and he’s good when we win. I think he has the right balance.”
Butcher’s rant, though, was a rare moment in what has largely been an uplifting experience for Forster, his team-mates and the Easter Road fans, as the defender admitted.
He said: “He is a very positive manager – that’s reflected in the way we play. The players are confident going into every game, confident we are going to get crosses into the box, create chances and keep a clean sheet as we have been doing.
“Everything we do Monday to Friday and on a Saturday is all positive, looking for the right result. What he does do, though, is once he’s told you, it’s done. We came in on Monday, had a little chat about it and then put it to bed and began focusing on tomorrow, because there’s no point dwelling on things as long as we work hard and correct what’s gone wrong.”
Butcher has described himself as a “perfectionist” in setting the high standards he demands from his players every week. Forster conceded that it is probably an unachievable goal, although he insisted that shouldn’t prevent him and his team-mates striving to be the very best they can be, not only on match days but in training.
He said: “I think every manager is looking for his players to play brilliantly every week, to get the three points, to keep clean sheets, score lots of goals and entertain the fans. But in the Premiership it’s now like that. There are times when you have to grind out results, to take points here and there, but if it’s perfections he wants we will work hard to try to get there.
“He is the manager and what he wants the players have to try to give him. People say practice makes perfect, but perfection is a rare thing to come by. We’re not all going to be the best player in the world, so I believe practice makes better. When the manager expects such high standards, as players we know we have to shine every day.
“You know when you have not had a good training session, you are really disappointed because you want to train well every day and play well every week. I wouldn’t say it’s an extra pressure, but it makes you want to do really well and not let him down. The gaffer and Maurice Malpas have given the team a great boost and we are trying to repay them with performances on the pitch.”
Having suffered that blip, Forster has his fingers crossed normal service will resume tomorrow as Hibs seek a third successive home win following victories against Kilmarnock and Hearts, although he emphasised that the objective is the three points rather than concerning themselves about records.
He said: “It’s another game. We’ll turn up having prepared well and believing we have a real chance of winning. If we go about our game plan as we will, getting crosses into the box, making chances and defending well, then I think we will do so. It would be great to keep the fans onside. The atmosphere at the derby was the best I have played in personally and a packed Easter Road, to my mind, has probably one of the best atmospheres in Scotland bar perhaps Parkhead.”
While Hibs go into the clash tomorrow with St Mirren with the aim to repair the slight damage done by that setback against the Dons, Danny Lennon’s side arrive in the Capital having suffered three consecutive defeats and have won only once in their last seven outings, although that was a notable 4-1 victory over Dundee United.
Forster said: “The fact they’ve lost their last three means nothing to us. It doesn’t matter, because we are not concentrating on them, but on ourselves and how we are going to beat them. It would be the same approach if they’d won their last ten games. We’ll have the same game plan, we’ll play the same way and be focused on what we are going to do.”