Hibs ‘must match growing demands of their fan base’

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Former Hibs captain Murdo MacLeod has warned his old club their biggest danger next season will be matching the ever-growing expectations of their fan base.

Neil Lennon’s squad finished fourth in their first season back in the Ladbrokes Premiership after three years out, their bid to overhaul Aberdeen and Rangers in the fight for that runners-up spot behind Celtic only snuffed out by defeat at Tynecastle in the penultimate game of the season.

Murdo MacLeod

Murdo MacLeod

But now, believes Skol Cup final-winning captain MacLeod, fans will be expecting nothing less than second place on the back of an impressive return to the top flight.

The former Scotland midfielder admitted he had enjoyed watching as Lennon’s players amassed a club record points tally, saying: “I thought they were great last season. They had their ups and downs throughout. In one or two home games they suffered shock defeats, but for a team that had just come up it was a great achievement to finish fourth.”

The challenge, however, will be to better that, a tough task admitted MacLeod, who who cautioned: “Expectancy levels have risen on the back of the success this season. They’ll be expecting second too, albeit Rangers are going to be a challenge as well.

“Aberdeen will still be there but the Hibs fans – Lenny too – will be looking to do well. When you’ve had a wee taste of it, I think the target again next season will to be finish second.

“I think the same four teams are going to be battling away at the top. Maybe Hearts will get better.”