Neil Lennon has admitted Hibs can’t afford to lose tomorrow’s match against Aberdeen if they are to keep their hopes of finishing second in the Premiership table alive – but insisted the Easter Road side will head for Pittodrie intent on winning.
The Dons currently sit three points ahead of the Capital outfit with only three matches remaining, a situation which leaves Lennon’s players with no margin for error although tomorrow’s opponents face Rangers and Celtic in their final two games having failed to take a single point from either side of the Old Firm so far this season.
While Hibs have won the first two of their post-split matches against champions Celtic and Kilmarnock in style at home, Lennon revealed he always believed this trip to the Granite City would be “pivotal” to their aspirations, with Rangers – who lie level on points with the Hibees – also seeking that runners-up slot. The Hibs boss said: “We are enjoying the big games, and this is just the next one. It is the most important one because it is the current one and both teams go into it on the back of two very good wins.
“It is important we don’t lose the game because we don’t want to give Aberdeen a six-point buffer going into the last two games. That would make it really difficult to finish second so we all know what is at stake. Regardless of the game against Celtic, this was always going to be a pivotal game in the five. You take each game on its own merits, but this was, on paper, always going to be one of the most difficult of the five.”
However, while obviously well aware of the ramifications of losing, Lennon insisted he won’t set up his side simply to try to avoid defeat although he insisted how the game pans out may dictate tactical changes for either side. He said: “Aberdeen are strong and effective, well organised and they have good players in the final third, who can really hurt you.
“At set-plays, they are very good as well. It is a different game from Celtic and Kilmarnock and we will endeavour to get the ball down and attack. That is the way the players are built and you have to make other teams defend well at times. It is easy to set your team up defensively, far easier to do than to go out and attack.
“It is easy to put up two banks of four but you don’t learn anything from that in the long run. I have never approached football that way because I think it can work for you for a short period of time, but then teams work you out and you have to be absolutely bang on it every week for it to work.
“I don’t have the players and don’t want to sign the players I would need to do that. I want players like [Scott] Allan or [Martin] Boyle or [Brandon] Barker or [Flo] Kamberi. I want them to do what they are good at and that is attack and make life difficult for the opposition.”