I’ve left Hibs in a better state, insists Fenlon

Pat Fenlon is sent to the stands during the 2012 Scottish Cup final defeat to Hearts
Pat Fenlon is sent to the stands during the 2012 Scottish Cup final defeat to Hearts
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Pat Fenlon believes he’s leaving Hibs in better shape than when he arrived in Edinburgh almost two years ago,

Fenlon entered Easter Road to find the club embroiled in a battle against relegation, their place in the top flight of Scottish football only secured in the penultimate game of the season with a crushing 4-0 defeat of Dunfermline. It secured 11th place and safety, while, paradoxically, Fenlon, who had quit Bohemians, steered his new club to the final of the Scottish Cup.

No-one at Easter Road needs reminded of what happened on that day in May 2012, the 5-1 hammering by Capital rivals Hearts causing Hibs fans to shudder at its mere mention to this day, while Fenlon accepted that both that result and the 7-0 Europa League mauling at home to Swedish side Malmo will also undoubtedly be mentioned as part of his legacy.

Nevertheless, the Irishman insisted he’s got Hibs moving in the right direction, pointing out that last season, his first and only full season at the helm, the club finished seventh – still well below expectations – and were 18 points better off than the previous season, plus they made the final for a second successive year, losing 3-0 to Celtic.

Asked if the biggest disappointment as Hibs boss would be people remembering only the drubbing by Hearts and the Malmo result, Fenlon said: “That’s the way it is. We also went a season last year unbeaten against Hearts which hadn’t happened in about eight or nine years, but people don’t want to talk about those things. I can’t change that.

“I haven’t thought about how I will be remembered. Hopefully, people will respect the job I’ve done and that I’ve worked hard enough to get the club into a decent position.

“When I came in we were in a scrap, fighting relegation. We got out of that, we finished 11th then finished four places higher and 18 points better off. If that’s not progress then I don’t know what is. We got to two cup finals, only to lose them, but I think we have a really good squad at a really good club and hopefully we can kick on.

“I signed the majority of the squad, there aren’t many left from when I came in. They are here for a reason. They are really good professionals, working to capacity for me and the club. We are in a good position in the league and had we won last week we’d have been in a better position. It’s important we move forward.”

Off the field, too, he insisted there had been change for the good. He said: “We have changed the whole staff, we have changed the structure in relation to scouting and worked hard with the academy. There are a lot of positives. I believe I am leaving something to be proud of for the next man.”

Fenlon revealed he plans to watch Sunday’s match against Motherwell on television and that he’ll be back to Easter Road to support the club. He said: “I haven’t thought about the future, I have just been thinking about what is the best thing to do in relation to Hibs and myself and that decision is now made.

“This is a great football club. It’s not the club I supported, but I have a real affinity with it and I’ll have no hesitation in coming to watch games here.”