Be more angry, Paul Heckingbottom tells Hibs players
Paul Heckingbottom has demanded more “frustration, anger and determination” from his faltering Hibs side as they bid to kick-start a season which has failed to live up to expectations.
Defeat by Capital rivals Hearts – their third Premiership loss in a row – has left the Easter Road outfit second bottom of the league table, prompting a small and brief protest outside the ground following the derby.
Heckingbottom and his players have a brief respite from league business when they face Kilmarnock in the quarter-final of the Betfred Cup at Rugby Park tonight before taking on champions Celtic at the weekend.
But while hoping the lure of a Hampden date and a semi-final can act as the spur to turn Hibs’ fortunes around, Heckingbottom stood aside and threw the floor open for his players to have an hour-long discussion among themselves.
Adamant it was important for him to “come totally away from it” to hand them ownership of the derby debrief, the Yorkshireman said: “I think there should be tension, there should be some friction, some edge to how we work.
“I would want to see more anger and then display that in our performances. They should be disappointed. If they are not as frustrated as I was at the little lapses in concentration that cost them a derby win, they should not be playing the game.
“There should be frustration, anger and real determination. There would be no issues from me if there was a bit more tension.”
Heckingbottom fully understands and accepts the scrutiny he is under given a record of only one league win in 11 matches stretching back to a victory at Tynecastle in April, an entirely different landscape to that he enjoyed when he first arrived in Edinburgh to guide Hibs to a run of ten games unbeaten, lifting the side from eighth place to fifth.
And he knows everything he does is now being questioned, not least the summer recruitment drive which ultimately saw nine signings, the majority of them from English football and with many having found themselves benched recently.
But while admitting Hibs can’t currently be described as being on the right trajectory given their recent record, the former Barnsley and Leeds United manager insisted he fully believes in what he is trying to achieve at Easter Road.
“It’s a big thing for them to come up,” he said, “the intensity of the league. Regardless of what anyone says, there’s a real intensity. I have spoken about it a hell of a lot, not just on the pitch, how it is played and refereed, but from the stands, around the ground.
“There’s an attachment from every fan with the club that you can feel from the terraces, even in smaller grounds with smaller crowds. So you have to be ready for that, to embrace it, use it if it’s against your to drive you, to use it if it’s against you to drive you, to use it if it’s with you to push you even further on.
“That’s something these players are getting used to. It’s not me holding them back in any shape or form, but working with them getting them to adapt, step up and go beyond the players who are already in the team.
“If that happens, when that happens, we’ll work with the players who are not in the team to get them above and beyond. There will be natural chances for them to do it through injuries and suspensions, without a doubt.