Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom reveals he is haunted by horror show at Rangers

Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom wants to see a reaction from his players
Hibs manager Paul Heckingbottom wants to see a reaction from his players
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Paul Heckingbottom hopes his players can put their 6-1 mauling by Rangers behind them, but admitted Hibs’ worst league result in 16 years will linger long in his memory.

But, insisted the head coach, the capitulation at Ibrox - his players conceded four goals in the final 16 minutes - should act as a reminder to everyone of how football can “kick you up the backside” if they aren’t at the top of their game.

As expected, Heckingbottom revealed his players had been feeling down as they made the journey home to Edinburgh and still felt the same way when they reported for training on Monday, but he is adamant the focus has now firmly been switched to tomorrow’s Betfred Cup clash with Morton.

“We have been working hard since then,” he said. “And everyone has been on the training ground, everyone wants to step up and perform in this next game.

“I can tell you how I felt about it. But I have also been clear that we are on to another game now, it’s a cup game and we want to get through to the next round.”

Heckingbottom admitted the nature of the defeat was as hurtful as the result, disclosing his usual after-match analysis had focused very much on his team’s shortcomings.

He said: “We always go through the games, there is always a post mortem. Sometimes you show it and generally you focus on us, how we want to play and we look at the tactical things - what we did well, what we didn’t.

“Maybe it is things you want to carry through into the next game, but this one was basically showing them everything we didn’t want to be about. It was pointless me just talking about it and, anyway, the players knew. They just wanted to learn from it, move on, get out on to the training pitch and work hard.”

Heckingbottom is adamant his players can be much better than Sunday’s showing, even accepting that on the day Steven Gerrard’s Rangers had been “very good.”

He said: “We were nowhere near where we need to be. We got back into the game through our first good press, our first bit of quality and good finish.”

Just as Heckingbottom and his assistant Robbie Stockdale were discussing on the sidelines what they could further do to grasp the lifeline Daryl Horgan’s goal had given them, youngster Sean Mackie was sent off, a moment the South Yorkshireman insisted changed the game.

Down to ten men against Rangers away was always going to be difficult but, revealed Heckingbottom, it was the way in which the goals were conceded that infuriated him.

“That’s what we have never done since I’ve been here,” he said. “That was what I wanted, to be really honest about with the players and for them to see and to know we won’t accept that. We know we’re going to concede goals this season, we’re not daft, but not like that.

“It will be with me for a long time, definitely. Players get an opportunity to get it right the next game don’t they? But I think it’s important it stays with me longer anyway.”

Heckingbottom revealed he had left 20-year-old Mackie alone with his own thoughts on his sending off to see how he reacted while disclosing he is still to decide whether to make changes tomorrow or let the same players try and atone.

He said: “There’s an argument for both, isn’t there? Put the same 11 out and say ‘go on, put it right’. But there’s also an argument to make statements on things. There’s stuff you’re not happy with and there’s stuff you will not accept.”

Heckingbottom also admitted he’d questioned himself saying: “I’ve been in games where you know you’ve made errors in terms of asking someone to do something that’s slightly out of their comfort zone. Sending a team out not knowing what to expect - it wasn’t one of those from me.”

The chastening experience at Ibrox might have been something of an eye-opener for Heckingbottom’s summer signings, three of whom started the game along with the returning Scott Allan, but he insisted it was a lesson for all.

He said: “It’s not just the newcomers, everyone needs that every now and again. Even the staff. It is a little reminder of how hard you have to work and how it can kick you up the backside if you aren’t at it.

“So everyone needs that reminder because one thing is for certain in this league, it doesn’t matter who you are playing against, you’ve got to be at a level where you are really competing, really aggressive and on top of your game.

“Sometimes it’s not flowing football that wins games, it is out-battling the opposition. Sometimes you need both and on Sunday we would have needed both - but we only produced that for about a 15 minute spell.”

Heckingbottom is now looking for a backlash from his players against their Championship visitors. He said: “We would have preferred to play on Wednesday night in the league, but this is different, the last 16 of a cup so that should take care of itself. That [Ibrox] result will be with me for a long time, but this weekend the players get a chance to put it right.”