Michael Weir: Why Paul Heckingbottom must address any confidence issues at Hibs

Steven Whittaker, who is 35, played alongside Darren McGregor, who is aged 34, at Ibrox. Numbers look thin in defence if injuries occur
Steven Whittaker, who is 35, played alongside Darren McGregor, who is aged 34, at Ibrox. Numbers look thin in defence if injuries occur
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Hibs took a real battering at Ibrox and you can only hope the confidence of the players – and the new signings in particular – hasn’t suffered the same way.

At the end of the day it doesn’t really matter whether it’s 2-1 or 6-1, the three points are lost but the worry is how it will affect the players and that’s something Paul Heckingbottom will have to address in the coming days.

There’s an argument to be made that having gone down to ten men after Sean Mackie was sent off for simply shutting up shop and trying to limit the damage, Heckingbottom saw it differently in putting on a second striker in Flo Kamberi. Who knows, on another day it might have worked but on this occasion Rangers were simply ruthless.

I think they sensed from the start that we were a bit cautious, sitting off them and they went for us as we saw with Ofir Marciano having to get down at the feet of Jermain Defoe after only a couple of minutes.

What made Sunday’s hammering surprising was the fact Hibs went to Ibrox boasting as good a record as any club against Rangers in recent seasons. Those results were achieved by adopting a “have a go” attitude. Every team has weaknesses but we gave Rangers too much of the ball and, to be honest, they could have been out of sight long before half-time. But Daryl Horgan’s goal brought us right back into the game and for the first wee while in the second half it looked as if we might even get level.

Unfortunately, young Mackie panicked and threw his arm up at the ball, picked up a second yellow card and we were left with ten men for 35 minutes, not a situation you want to be in at the likes of Ibrox.

It was a bit of inexperience from Mackie who, to me, looks better going forward than defending, and Rangers made it count. What happened thereafter brought back memories of another Ibrox nightmare, the last game of 1995 when we were thumped 7-0.

I wasn’t playing – I was coming back from injury – but, as happened on Sunday, the game just suddenly disappears out of view. Before you know it, you are three, four, five and so on down – remember four of Rangers’ goals came in the last 16 minutes.

To be fair, Rangers were totally ruthless but we weren’t lacking in experience although for me there is a worry about our defence. Steven Whittaker is 35 and Darren McGregor 34, two guys with plenty of experience but if we lose a couple of players to injury we’re going to be short of numbers in that area.

There might have been a reason, but it was a surprise to me to see Adam Jackson on the bench with McGregor rejoining Paul Hanlon at the back, Jackson having been signed by Heckingbottom who played him in the first game.