Hibs heartache of on-loan Man United prospect: 'I feel like I've failed - and can only apologise to fans.'

The horror sinks in. Will Fish at full-time after yesterday's heart-breaking 1-1 draw with Motherwell.The horror sinks in. Will Fish at full-time after yesterday's heart-breaking 1-1 draw with Motherwell.
The horror sinks in. Will Fish at full-time after yesterday's heart-breaking 1-1 draw with Motherwell.
Raw emotion of SPFL split failure laid bare by young defender

Behind the collective calamity and the urge to stick together, there are individual tales of heartache. Heavy blows to personal pride that will take a long time to heal.

Listening to an emotional Will Fish talk about having “failed” Hibs and let down the supporters who invest so much in backing the team, it was hard not to feel sympathy for a young man – still just 21, remember – at a crossroads in his career. On loan from Manchester United and entering the final guaranteed year of his contract, he had good reason for craving a breakthrough season in Scottish football.

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But don’t get the impression that Fish’s hurt is all about his own reputational damage. He’s fallen in love with Hibs during his two loan spells at Easter Road. And genuinely shares in the anguish of the near-3000 fans driven demented by the loss of another late, late goal in yesterday’s all-too-typical draw at Fir Park.

Fronting up in the wake of a result that saw Hibs miss out on a place in the top six of the Scottish Premiership, a real source of grievance for a player who believes his team should ALWAYS be aiming to finish third as a bare minimum, Fish said: “My focus this season was to come back here and do the best for the club.

“And I feel like I’ve failed. The team are in the bottom six and I’ve played in a lot of the games, so I need to have a look at myself. And that hurts, as well.

“No-one out there ever gives less than 100 per cent. We’ve had a few things go against us this year. And just sloppy moments, like conceding in the last minute, has cost us. I would never say it’s down to effort or trying. That’s football. It happens.

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“Everyone in that changing room will learn from it. In football, you never want to have days like this. But you need to have these moments to enjoy the good times.

“It’s going to hurt us, and we apologise to the fans as well because we feel their backing every week. It will hurt them just as much as us. It’s tough to take and we apologise.

“It’s a sickener. It’s going to take a while to digest. I mean, we’ve thrown away too many good opportunities this season. This was just another prime example of that.

“It can’t keep happening. And that’s on us. We have to take responsibility for that. It will take a few days, but we need to pick ourselves back up and go again.

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“Yeah, it probably sums up our season. We’ve had so many times when we’ve been in front in games, only to concede in the last minute, the last ten minutes, whatever. For whatever reason. That’s on the players. And it hurts. But that’s football.

“It’s just naïve. And ultimately it has cost us a place in the top six. It’s hard to say more right now, but it’s a tough one to take.

“It will take a few days, first and foremost, to let it digest. I think everyone needs to go away, and we need to have a look at ourselves, at what’s gone wrong this season.

“The only thing we can do now is go and play for the badge, win the last five games available. Everyone is gutted, but we’ve only got ourselves to blame.”

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Asked what success looks like for a team of Hibernian’s stature, Fish paused to give the question full consideration before declaring: “It’s obviously third place. I believe the squad we had this season was good enough for that. For whatever reason the results have gone against us, and it’s just not worked out.

“Third and you want to be playing in Europe. We had some great away days in Europe this season that will stick with me forever. That’s where the club should be - and us players can only apologise for not achieving that this year.

“There are good foundations here. Guys that are here contracted to Hibs are all good players. The management team, I believe, will be successful.

“But right now it’s hard to look that far. We just have to focus on now ‘til the end of the season then start afresh in the summer.”

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Support for the gaffer in these situations is pretty much a given, Fish saying of manager Nick Montgomery’s position: “It’s something that’s never crossed my mind - or any player’s mind - that they can’t be successful at this club. We see it day in day out, their tactical stuff, training and everything they put in. The effort they put in to make us better, everyone can see that.

“We’ve had a few bad results this season, which is on the players, nothing to do with the management. Given time they will turn it round.”

With options south of the Border to be explored, Fish isn’t guaranteed to be available for a return to Hibs this summer, the youngster saying only: “I’ve focused on this season only for now. Take it step by step and whatever happens in the summer, I don’t know.

“I’ve loved every minute playing for Hibs, we’ve had some incredible times. These last five games we need to give everything for the shirt and try to get five wins to finish on a high.”