Green shoots in attack and a crime scene at the back - Hibs talking points

Man in the middle - Marcondes looked at ease playing just in front of central midfielders Dylan Levitt and Joe Newell.Man in the middle - Marcondes looked at ease playing just in front of central midfielders Dylan Levitt and Joe Newell.
Man in the middle - Marcondes looked at ease playing just in front of central midfielders Dylan Levitt and Joe Newell. | SNS Group
Fans treated to gutsy drama - but crave a big-money blockbuster

A point is a point. And every one of those is to be held dear by Hibs, in the current circumstances. But it feels like they had a golden chance to put themselves clear of a pretty serious mid-season slump at Rugby Park yesterday. Nick Montgomery’s men may yet rue their inability to turn a 2-0 deficit into an unexpected 3-2 victory.

As for the large travelling support who no doubt enjoyed the dramatic nature of their team’s comeback on an afternoon of typically madcap Scottish Premiership entertainment? They seemed genuinely grateful for small mercies. But not quite willing to forget some of the horrors witnessed in Ayrshire.

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With just a few days of the January transfer window remaining, and with Wales Under-21 centre-half Owen Bevan the only known target on the horizon, supporters are entitled to fret a little about what the week might bring. Because, however many positives Monty might have taken from his team’s spirited fightback against Killie, the flaws that have undermined his best efforts since replacing Lee Johnson back in September remain stubbornly in place.

Looking back on Saturday with one eye on Thursday night, then, what are the main talking points for those with Hibs at heart? As ever, there’s no shortage of material for discussion.

Emiliano Marcondes is a shape-shifting game breaker

Technically, Hibs still deployed a very Monty-esque 4-4-2 against Kilmarnock. If you were willing to squint a bit, while repeating the mantra about starting positions being no more than suggestions, it kind of looked like that.

But the truth was that Marcondes, making his first start, operated as a No. 10. And what a No. 10. He demonstrated more game awareness than any other player on the plastic pitch at Rugby Park, always finding space, forever sensing pressure as if he had eyes in the back of his head. He’s a real find.

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Myziane Maolida makes a better second impression

Absolutely lost at centre forward in Wednesday night’s heavy loss to Rangers, Maolida helped turn things around for Hibs as a substitute left winger. As one of three players thrown into this game soon after Killie’s second goal, he did more than just find the net.

If he’s absolutely committed to doing whatever it takes to rescue his career, filling any role required and taking a few lumps along the way, maybe he will rediscover some of the quality that once made him a 10 million Euro player. It’s up to him.

Monty should put yellow police tape around his back four

Will Fish made one absolutely outstanding recovery tackle – something he gets plenty of practice at – and was pretty dominant in the air. But, as things stand, every ball into the Hibs box has the potential to create a footballing crime scene.

How good is this Bevan kid supposed to be? He’ll have to be one heck of a centre-half – like a young Kevin Ratcliffe, maybe – to solve some of the recurring problems affecting Hibs.

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VAR is doing for football what Fujitsu did for automated accounting systems

It’s broken beyond repair. Any trust that once existed between players and referees, coaches and wider officialdom, has been torn up and tossed to the four winds. And all because nobody in power wants to admit to making a mistake.

The worrying thing is that Corrie Ndaba’s red card might not even have been the worst decision from yesterday’s game. Because there’s such a lack of clarity about which incidents do or do not merit a VAR check, we can’t be sure whether justice is being served.

Still, it must be everyone on the front line who is in the wrong. That’s the only explanation. After all, just a couple of months ago, the VAR Independent Review Panel told us that there had only been THREE mistakes by video officials during the first full round of Scottish Premiership fixtures.

Money can’t buy you happiness but …

For all the promise shown by a couple of new signings, and however highly rated some of the young players coming in may be, there’s no denying that Hibs could solve a lot of their problems at a stroke over the coming days. Simply by giving Montgomery some serious money to spend in the transfer market, either in a juicy fee or budget-stretching wages, the Easter Road club could land one or two stone-cold winners of proven pedigree.

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How much is UEFA group stage football worth? A minimum of £5 million, before you count every additional revenue stream opened up by competing in Europe. Even without the Bill Foley money, still in limbo while Scotland’s football authorities do their due diligence on an American billionaire with a burgeoning stable of sporting investments all over the globe, there’s a case to be made for investing now.

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