Hibs hoping to use this season's achievements to entice even greater quality to Easter Road
Hibs have the power to end this season on a high, but manager Jack Ross is looking even further into the future and says that what his side achieve now will also help the club lay the foundations for a prolonged period of achievement.
The midweek victory over Livingston secured the Easter Road side European football next term and over the final few games of the season, they have the chance to build on that by ending the Premiership campaign in third place for the first time in 16 years, while also improving on earlier knockout showings by progressing through to the final of the Scottish Cup and, if all goes to plan, lifting the trophy for only the second time since 1902.
That unusual level of success will undoubtedly attract offers for some of the men who made it possible and render it virtually impossible to keep the squad intact but, determined to evolve and improve, Ross says it will also make it easier for the club to lure a higher calibre of player, and allow them to keep setting standards high.
“There’s two sides to the issue. The downside to doing well is you know players will attract attention,” he said, with top scorer Kevin Nisbet just one of those expected to be the subject of renewed outside interest. “But, undoubtedly, once we look to recruit, the fact we have European football guaranteed – and hopefully a longer spell in Europe – and are competing in the latter stages of cup competitions and doing well in the league should encourage players to come here.
“There are a lot of individual players who are really driven to push their own levels and they will have ambitions to take themselves away from here by doing that. There is nothing wrong with that. Hopefully that gives us the best chance of winning regularly as well.
“Certainly this season will help me over the coming weeks and months in terms of bringing players to the club.”
Pushing for something bigger and better, Hibs have made it clear that they refuse to settle for fourth place and a couple of semi-final showings. The need is for something more tangible in the short-term and the promise of even more going forward.
“I think we all want that. There are a lot of players, coaches and managers who’ve had very good careers but don’t win much or don’t win anything and I think a season can be successful without that [silverware]. However, when you come to reflect on what you’ve achieved as a player, coach or a manager, ideally you want to have that tangible reward.
“That’s something for us that’s been a driver from day one and will continue to be for as long as I’m at the club. It will always be something that we want to do – keep progressing.
“Thus far, the cup competitions have been strange in that respect. People have said they’ve been disappointing yet we’ve been to the semi-final stages of each of the competitions. We want to continue getting to the latter stages and take those next steps to go and win one.”
If they can better Motherwell in this evening’s quarter-final, they will return to Hampden determined to show ongoing improvement.