Hibs offer tantalising flashes of potential greatness - despite recurring flaws

Attacking threat aplenty and signs of cohesion in new-look starting XI
Dundee's Joe Shaughnessy was turned inside out by Myziane Maolida as he scored the winner for Hibs.Dundee's Joe Shaughnessy was turned inside out by Myziane Maolida as he scored the winner for Hibs.
Dundee's Joe Shaughnessy was turned inside out by Myziane Maolida as he scored the winner for Hibs.

It’s a start. A glimpse of what might be, should everything click. And a reminder that certain flaws have the stubborn stickability of a particularly ornery mule.

What did we really see in yesterday’s 2-1 home win at Easter Road? A promise of things to come for a Hibs team bouncing back from rock bottom? Or another false dawn in a season, a year, an era of disappearing hopes?

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Nick Montgomery’s men showed character and ability in solving the problems presented to them by Dundee. That they were forced to fight and scrape for three points is a concern, given their overall dominance. But coming out on top in the arm wrestle will be as much of a confidence booster as the victory itself – their first league win since December 9. Let’s take a deeper look at the key elements of that triumph …

Flexibility is an asset, not a sign of weakness

Having persisted with a straight-up 4-4-2 through good times and bad, Monty has shown himself to be more adaptable of late. Having toyed with a 4-3-3/4-5-1, he went for the ever-popular 4-2-3-1 against Dundee. You can see why so many coaches like it.

Martin Boyle and Myziane Maolida were holy terrors to the Dark Blues fullbacks, Dylan Vente got his first goal since December 3 – and Emiliano Marcondes found himself in areas where he could hurt the opposition. Whether or not Hibs stick with this shape may depend on the opponents. But it’s worth remembering.

Myziane Maolida is a potential superstar

Leave the goal out of it. No, actually, don’t. Because it’s important to assess the Frenchman’s performance as a whole – and his wonderful solo effort, the coup de grace if you like, deserves to be lauded and applauded for a while yet.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Beyond bagging the winner, though, Maolida – a millionaire wunderkind at 18 and a Bundesliga 2 reject at 25 - really caught the eye with his close control. When he gets the ball at his feet, there’s not much a defender can do except hope to avoid suffering a twisted vertebrae in an attempt to pin the attacker down.

“He’s a top-class player and you saw that today,” said Montgomery, speaking after the game. “He’s getting better with the more minutes he gets into his legs.

“Myziane and a couple of the other guys, like Marcondes, who came in during the window came because they weren’t getting regular football. That’s one thing I spoke to Myziane about when he came in, giving him that opportunity. He’s been getting better week in, week out and against every team he’s a real threat.

“You saw his quality in so many moments, and he’s a real team player as well. He more than deserved that goal.”

Set pieces, set pieces, set pieces …

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

No prizes for guessing the one thing that really annoyed Montgomery on Saturday, the straight-talking Yorkshireman visibly wincing as he pointed out: “Dundee had one shot on target and scored a goal from that, a long throw-in and second phase, so we’re disappointed to concede that.

“It was a good defensive display, but they had one shot on target and scored one goal, so that’s disappointing. But the boys were solid, and David Marshall didn’t have much to do. But we do have accept that we conceded a goal from one shot on target. We have to keep working hard.”

Even when they clear the first ball from a corner, or free-kick or a throw-in, the danger is never over. Not for this Hibs team, Not yet.

You can’t rush a complex operation

Montgomery arrived during the September international break. He inherited players who had been signed by his predecessor’s predecessor’s predecessor’s predecessor, in some instances. Yeah, that’s right.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

With half a dozen new faces added to the squad, it will still take time for everything to come together. And that’s assuming a high strake rate when it comes to getting something out of recruits who, in some cases, are motivated by the chance to prove themselves.

“In the transfer window, we worked really hard to bring in some quality players,” said the former Central Coast boss. “To get some of the injured boys back, to bring in new talent in the window, give them time to integrate with the squad and get used to the league, it took some time.

“But today you saw some really top performances from players who have only been here a couple of weeks. And I think that galvanised everybody. This is another step forward to building on this end to the season.”

Up next? Oh yeah, those guys …

There is clear water between Hearts and Hibs at the moment, when it comes to league position and points on the board. It’s not even a contest. Unlike Wednesday night’s Scottish Premiership clash at Tynecastle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It’s going to be fascinating, seeing how Steven Naismith’s men react to being battered at Ibrox. The fact that Hibs have just begun to build the tiniest modicum of momentum makes it doubly interesting. As if this game needed any added angles, sub-plots or storylines, right?

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.