Hibs boss Neil Lennon has revealed how he allowed his players to “let their hair down” by taking them out for a meal and a few beers after roasting them for their Irn-Bru Cup defeat by St Mirren.
Lennon branded his side’s first-half performance “insipid” and described their defending for Saints’ winner as “amateur stuff”, adamant he was only telling it how it was, that he couldn’t fool anyone by attempting to “sugar coat” what they’d seen. But, after a run of four matches without a win, he also admitted he perhaps needed to consider if the problem was something he and his management team were doing, the upshot being a night out at a city hotel for dinner and drinks while watching Scotland’s game against Slovakia on television. He said: “When you are on a bad run, you have to look at things. The manner of the defeat last week was tentative, we didn’t play well and it was totally different from the way we have played all season.
“I decided to have a chat with them on Monday. I told them I didn’t want to lose any of them [by what he had said], but some of them had gone off the boil. Then we decided to have a night out with the players.
“We took them out on Tuesday for a nice meal and a few drinks just to break it up. We went to a hotel, watched the game privately and then I just let them do their own thing after that.
“In the modern day, that is frowned upon but the players are human beings at the end of the day. They train well and train hard and I felt it would be good for them to let their hair down rather than be on them all the time.
“We didn’t have a pre-season and it was the chance to get to know everybody better.
“I think when you have not won for a couple of weeks you can batter them and batter them and stay on top of them. That tough love can work sometimes, or it can go the other way and deteriorate. We didn’t want that to happen as we certainly didn’t want to lose the spirit that we have.
“If you don’t do things like that then it becomes a job and a chore coming into training. Players’ shoulders start to get heavy and you need to lift it and it is up to me as the manager to do that.
“The players train well and hard but we were also looking at what we were doing differently as a management team compared to the first few games of the season and the answer was ‘nothing much’.
“I was highly critical of them after the St Mirren game and they might have expected a tougher time this week. They should be able to take criticism on board, I can’t sugar coat things all the time. How else could I describe last week’s performance?
“However, honesty can sometimes be misconstrued and taken the wrong way. They didn’t play well but we decided to pick them up and go the other way.
“We wanted to get some spark and fizzle back into things. It is not always cracking the whip as we do things with humour as well.
“ I do look at my own performance and sometimes say to myself ‘you were a bit hard on them there’.
“You do set standards and you want to maintain them.
“Now I am looking for a response against Raith Rovers.”