Lee Johnson remains in charge at Hibs but pressure is mounting on under-fire boss
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Rumours circulated on Monday night claiming that Johnson had already been relieved of his duties and Hibs’ virtual silence on social media in the aftermath of the match and early on Tuesday fuelled speculation that the 41-year-old may have been moved on after the 3-0 defeat by their bitter rivals marked a ninth loss in 11 games. His explosive post-match remarks which saw him take aim at his players, recruitment, and the club’s board did little to dispel the hearsay.
But the former Sunderland boss remains in post, albeit under intense scrutiny. The next three matches – a trip to face tenth-placed Motherwell at Fir Park, a home game against Dundee United who currently occupy 11th and another Edinburgh derby, this time at Easter Road and in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup – are effectively must-wins for the manager and failure to arrest an alarming run of results could prove costly.
While Hibs are just three points off fellow strugglers Aberdeen in fourth, and host the Dons later this month, they are also just four points above the relegation play-off spot – and two of the teams currently below them in the rankings have a game in hand.
Victory on Sunday against Motherwell, who haven’t won at home in the league since the first day of the season, would be a start but Johnson will almost certainly have to rely on performances from players who incurred his wrath at Tynecastle. He must also further trim his bloated squad this month in order to acquire players capable of meeting his standards. He described himself as ‘sick to death of the mediocrity’ and admitted that recruitment mistakes had been made in the past, potentially including those signed under his watch during the summer.
Meanwhile, Hibs chiefs are plotting an organisational shake-up behind the scenes in a bid to get the club back on an even keel. The finer details are still being ironed out but the Evening News understands the club is considering a return to a structure similar to the one in place during Leeann Dempster’s tenure as chief executive.