Lee Johnson slams 'timid' Hibs players after Celtic rout and says he wanted to make seven half-time subs
Lee Johnson described Hibs’ 6-1 humbling by Celtic as one of the worst feelings in his managerial career.
The hosts were 3-0 up after 24 minutes courtesy of a James Forrest brace and a Giorgos Giakoumakis strike, and scored thrice more in the second half with Forrest notching his hat-trick, Giakoumakis adding a second, and Daizen Maeda adding a sixth after Élie Youan had reduced the deficit ten minutes after the break.
Speaking afterwards, Johnson said he was hugely disappointed, adding: “It felt like we were a boxer who didn’t want to throw a punch because we were worried about the counter-punch.
"Our timid play was like a domino effect through the team. What is the fear factor of going to press? These are defenders who have a lot of experience in the league and as a team we can apply pressure.
"There’s a fear factor there but that’s what we have to change. It must be on a psychological level. That’s difficult for me to take and eats me up inside because second half we were outclassed, but we tried to get to the ball, apply pressure, and scored a good goal.
Johnson held his hands up, admitting he got his tactical approach wrong, but criticised the number of times his players gave the ball away or didn’t engage with opponents.
He added: “I sent the team to press in a certain way and got it wrong. I have to take responsibility. I want front foot pressing from our wide players but it was almost like someone had a rope and was pulling them back because of Celtic’s good play. For the full-backs not to engage and to allow so many free crosses, we had to change it to a back five. I couldn’t keep seeing defenders being 20 yards from a wideman, ambling out to stop a cross.
"If I could have made seven half-time changes I would have. The fourth goal is embarrassing; these are the moments where everything that could go wrong did go wrong.
"It will be a tough week and we deserve the criticism. I’ve had nearly 500 games as a manager and this is one of the worst I’ve felt because of the goals conceded and the lack of bog-standard professional detail.”