Michael Weir: Hibs fans were proved right - but I'm not getting carried away
Eddie May showed that football doesn't have to be rocket science
I was quite surprised at how well Hibs played on Saturday but the credit has to go to Eddie May and the rest of the coaching staff for the changes they made and the way they managed the players in the lead-up to the game.
Football doesn’t always have to resemble rocket science. A lot of people in the game don’t like listening to supporters because they feel they don’t know the game as well as they do. But supporters watch football every week and they have generally watched their team for several years longer than whoever the manager is so they know what works at their club and what doesn’t.
The Hibs fans in the stands certainly know a team when they see one - and they know when they see a team isn’t functioning properly. I think it was glaringly obvious to most people who had watched us under Paul a Heckingbottom that playing two strikers would make us a better side, equipped to cause more problems for opponents we would ordinarily be expected to beat.
Eddie May obviously realised this and made the switch to two up front straight away and it gave us a good chance to go up to Perth and beat a St Johnstone side who had won their previous two matches.
For me, Christian Doidge has been crying out for a partner to help him, and it showed on Saturday as he bagged himself a hat-trick. Every time, I’ve seen him he’s worked really hard - he hasn’t let the supporters down in that regard. But he’s always looked like a man who’s needed someone alongside him, either to flick balls on to or to do his running for him, as Florian Kamberi did to such good effect on Saturday. Playing on his own in the system Heckingbottom used was detrimental to Doidge’s game. Hopefully now that he’s got his goals, he’ll be feeling a lot better about himself and we’ll see the best of him in the coming weeks and months.
That change of formation didn’t just help the two strikers - it helped the whole team. Every player looked much improved on the level of performance they had been putting in earlier the season. Hopefully we’ll now see some of the other recent recruits step up the way Doidge did on a Saturday and start to flourish under our next manager.
I’m not getting carried away by Saturday’s victory, however, because, as I wrote last week, I still feel there is a lot of work to do in January to get this squad to the standard required to compete at the top end of the league on a consistent basis.
As good as that result in Perth was, the new manager is going to have a lot of work to do to get us back on an upward curve. They’re going to have to grab the imagination of the fans by winning football matches and playing good football. This is a big chance for the new owner to show how ambitious he is and how much he wants to push this club forward. I’d have liked to have seen us try and land an experienced man like Gordon Strachan, but it doesn’t look at this stage like we’re considering going down that road. Whoever ends up getting the nod, it’s absolutely imperative that we get this managerial appointment right because, after losing two managers in the space of nine months, we’re in danger of drifting back to the dark days before we got relegated when it seemed like we were changing our manager every year.