Hibs boss Alan Stubbs has warned his players he will be demanding greater discipline this term despite them having topped last season’s Championship unofficial “fair play league”.
Throughout their 36-match campaign, the Easter Road outfit only had one player sent off, midfielder Scott Robertson picking up two yellow cards in the first Edinburgh derby of the season. A total of 48 yellow cards were shown to Stubbs’ players, seeing them pip Rangers – who had two players red carded – to “first place” by one point.
In all, the Easter Road club had players unavailable for league games because of suspension on just eight occasions throughout the season, although they did have Danny Handling, Dylan McGeouch and Dominique Malonga sent off in cup competition while Lewis Stevenson was hit with a retrospective ban following his spat with Hearts star Jamie Walker at Tynecastle. But as delighted as he was with his players’ discipline, Stubbs insisted there was room for improvement, particularly in regard to avoiding silly bookings for misdemeanours such as dissent.
He said: “I think when you are running a squad that’s not huge in numbers you have to be very mindful of the disciplinary record. I think the way we play we are not the type of team that goes around giving away lots of fouls, running the risk of picking up lots of yellows and reds for being indisciplined.
“I think the team are well disciplined, they try to play football and when you try to have the ball more than the opposition you take that out of the equations and it’s something we’ll try to do again.
“At times, we were good last year, but there’s room for improvement and we are trying to make those marginal gains to be even better this season.”
Stubbs knows there were times when frustration got the better of individuals, particularly when opposition sides attempted to stifle their free-flowing game, saying: “Some of the decisions can make you frustrated.
“When you have talented players you always run the risk of close attention from the opposition. All you want is the referees to protect them when it’s right.
“There are going to be fouls. They are part and parcel of the game, but I think there’s more protection for players now than there ever has been.”