Hibs boss Lee Johnson defends comments after Hearts defeat - 'it's only to drive the club forward'

Hibs manager Lee Johnson insists there was no malice meant in his explosive post-match comments in the wake of Monday’s Edinburgh derby defeat as he insisted, ‘I just want to be successful’.
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The Easter Road boss spoke candidly in the media room at Tynecastle Park after the 3-0 reversal, pointing the finger at the club’s board with reference to the delay in offering a new deal to Ryan Porteous; stating that ‘mistakes had been made’ in terms of recruitment, and hinted that up to ten players could be leaving the club in the coming weeks. He also said he was ‘sick to death of the mediocrity’ in his squad and vowed to shift the ‘deadwood’.

But quizzed on his fiery remarks in the lead-up to Sunday’s crucial match with Motherwell at Fir Park, Johnson claimed his words would not have come as a surprise to the Hibs squad.

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"Often the headlines don't match the quotes, that's happened on a number of occasions. So if there’s any ambiguity in anything I’ve said, I absolutely would clarify it with the players. I think the players would know how I feel because the communication is constant in terms of where we are. I said ‘ten players out', just as an example, but ten players are already aware that they're available to move on. I'm not talking out of hand because the players know that already,” he explained.

Hibs boss Lee Johnson defended his post-Hearts commentsHibs boss Lee Johnson defended his post-Hearts comments
Hibs boss Lee Johnson defended his post-Hearts comments

Johnson has always erred on the side of brutal honesty in his comments, and insisted that he had no ulterior motive apart from positive results on the pitch and taking the club forward.

"When I think about my post-match tone, it's only to drive the club forward. I haven't got any other agenda apart from wanting to be successful for the club and moving it in the direction I know it can go,” he continued.

"When you're speaking to the press, you are naturally talking to various groups. You are speaking to the players and you've also got to be open and honest with the fans. I think I've always been that. I don't think it could ever be thrown at me that I've covered things up or hidden indifferences in performance. Inevitably when you do that, sometimes you can upset people. But I can assure you it's only for the greater good of the team. I'm human, and it's a passionate game, so if ever I'm out of order I'll apologise."

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He believes the reaction to his post-derby comments will have little bearing on Sunday’s encounter, as he revealed the main feeling in and around the squad in the lead-up to this weekend.

"Players want to win football matches so the vibe this week is that everyone's hurting, and not every player will be absolutely buzzing with the manager at any one point because you only pick 11 players and, maybe eight are regulars. I think we've got a really good group of lads here.

"We've got a new team with the amount of signings we've made, we're not a million miles away, and that's the most frustrating bit in this period. I think we've got a good opportunity in this next run of games to pick up points. We've just got to get that next win to build everyone's confidence."

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