Hibs fans right to be in murderous and mutinous mood after more mediocrity

Failure to reach top six reveals depth of crisis at Easter Road
Manager Montgomery and captain Joe Newell at full-time at Motherwell.Manager Montgomery and captain Joe Newell at full-time at Motherwell.
Manager Montgomery and captain Joe Newell at full-time at Motherwell.

You can’t fight a mood with logic. There’s no reasoning with emotion when the source of hurt, anguish and shame is still hammering away at the nerve endings like some particularly malicious whack-a-mole champion.

In the wake of another abject failure by Hibs – the club, as much as the team, the manager, or any individual players – to reach even the minimal standards expected by the paying customers who keep the whole business afloat, there will inevitably be high-level discussions and debates about the next step. If he’s far from the most experienced gaffer in the land, Nick Montgomery has been around football long enough to know that his own future will be up for at least tentative consideration by a board now including a certain Bill Foley – billionaire, Bournemouth owner and impatient setter of lofty goals.

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It would be ridiculous to decide that Montgomery somehow deserves to be sacked for failing to steer this bag of odds ‘n’ ends into the top half of the Scottish Premiership. Giving a manager one January transfer window to fix the problems inherited from a series of unsuccessful predecessors, and then ditching him after just seven months, would be grossly unfair.

But what have we learned about trying to apply commonsense to the business of football? That you might as well argue philosophy with a charging rhino. Sometimes, momentum has a way of overriding all higher brain functions among those appointed to make the big decisions.

Assuming, though, that Montgomery’s position isn’t under immediate and credible threat, what have we learned not just from today’s horrific late collapse at Fir Park – the season in a 20-second microcosm – but the general air of mediocrity around Hibs this season? Plenty. For those with the stomach to go through it all …

The league table doesn’t lie

Hibs are the very definition of a mid-table Scottish Premiership team, lacking both the attacking oomph and defensive solidity to be considered anything other than bog standard. In musical terms, they’re a middle-of-the-road sort of act. Air Supply meets Captain and Tennille.

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They’re in seventh place because they weren’t good enough to make the top six. It’s difficult to even pick out a single notable result – a goalless draw at home to Celtic, coming from two down to draw with Hearts at Tynecastle, maybe? – that suggests they’re in any way hard done by. Suck it up, lads. This is what you deserve.

Montgomery has made mistakes

Against Motherwell, it’s hard to argue with Monty’s observation that his team were 20 seconds from glory. He was also right to point out that his team should have been more than just 1-0 up heading deep into injury time.

With two actual out-and-out centre forwards on the bench, however, why didn’t he consider using one of the strikers to hammer home his team’s slender advantage? Surely it would have made more sense than simply hoping for a sudden and miraculous moment of composure from Elie Youan. Moving Myziane Maolida wide and sticking Dylan Vente or Adam Le Fondre through the middle might have killed the game off. Might.

Hibs are two proper bxxxxxds short of being competitive

Montgomery inherited a squad littered with a fair number of solid pros. Good athletes who are dedicated to making themselves better. Proper team-mates who understand the value of camaraderie.

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What they don’t have is a couple of guys who bring a real hardness to every game, every training session, every team meeting. Not just players who will kick lumps out of opponents and argue for every throw-in, but who aren’t afraid to upset team-mates by calling out failure and demanding more.

Reasons to be cheerful, anyone? Anyone?

Make no mistake. The next five games are going to be awful, regardless of performance and result. Hibs are guests at a party they’ve been desperately trying to avoid; you’ll probably see them in a corner with Aberdeen, muttering about how they both coulda been contenders.

But the least they owe their fans – and nearly 3000 following them to Motherwell was a remarkable show of strength, in the circumstances – is some sparkling football and resounding results. And they can always set themselves little targets to hit along the way.

How about, for starters, not throwing away a lead? Or learning how to defend a long throw-in? That would help improve – but not quite transform – a mood best described as meandering somewhere between mutinous and murderous.