David Gray: Winning a cup and a place in Europe are still Hibs' targets
Skipper says team is aiming high
Hibs captain David Gray believes the Easter Road outfit can still hit the targets set at the beginning of the season – despite admitting that until recent weeks they’ve been under-achieving.
Much had been expected of the capital club after Paul Heckingbottom had guided them to a fifth-place finish after taking over following the sudden departure of Neil Lennon.
Results in the final few matches had, though, been disappointing but the promise of a new start with a squad which had undergone a radical overhaul by the Yorkshireman filled supporters with hope.
However, it soon began to evaporate, an unconvincing start to their Betfred Cup campaign – although they did go on to claim a place in the semi-final – was rapidly followed by a miserable string of league results, a run of ten matches without a win resulting in Heckingbottom being sacked.
It was a decision which saw Hibs with their third head coach in little more than nine months as Jack Ross took the reins, his arrival sparking a mini-revival which has again lifted the club into the upper half of the Premiership table.
A knee injury sustained before August was out left Gray to watch the demise of Heckingbottom and Ross’ early days from the sidelines and, he insisted, from what he has seen there remains plenty of room for optimism.
Now back in full training, the 31-year-old said: “I probably can’t remember a season when there has been so much change in the one calendar year.
“The most frustrating thing was as a squad we felt we were under-achieving so far this season. We wanted to be up near the top but the results weren’t showing that and neither did the league table.
“We have put a wee run together ahead of a busy period and we want to keep that going. The last few weeks show how quickly things can turn around.
“Now we are looking up and how high can we finish? At the start of the season we wanted to finish in a European place and win a cup and we can still achieve that.
“It’s been a turbulent start, but if we can keep going like we are we can be up there. There are a lot of big games before the (winter) break and we want to push on.”
Sunday’s trip to Celtic Park followed by a visit from Rangers, the second Edinburgh derby of the season at Tynecastle on Boxing Day and the short journey to Livingston before the year comes to an end, will undoubtedly test not only the mettle of the Easter Road squad but offer a measure of where they stand going into the final few months of the season.
Noting how Heckingbottom’s initial impact had somewhat waned, Gray agreed that no-one wants to see the same thing happen as the weeks go by under Ross, currently enjoying a record of one defeat in five matches, his side’s performance in their 3-0 demolition of Aberdeen at the weekend their best this season by some distance.
The right-back said: “We don’t want another false dawn and that is the responsibility of the players to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“You see it all the time when a new manager comes in, for some reason the place gets a lift. I don’t know if it’s because some guys aren’t playing and then they get a chance again, or is it a freshness about the place?
“The response from all the players has been great and everyone is just looking forward to the next game. Hopefully we can keep going the way we are at the minute but it is down to the hard work of everyone involved.
“It’s always disappointing when a manager loses their job, it is a failure from everyone. Everything has been resolved, we are moving on and it is an exciting time at the club again.”