Look beyond VAR farce for signs of life at Hibs - John Greechan's Talking Points

Agonising home loss to Hoops contained a couple of positives for Monty's men
Maolida came close with this spectacular effort.Maolida came close with this spectacular effort.
Maolida came close with this spectacular effort.

If a tree falls in the woods and there’s no-one there to hear it, does it make a sound? It all depends on whether the video assistant referee decides to review the incident. Nothing officially happens until it’s been confirmed by the man in front of the TV screen. And anything he decides to ignore is deemed a non-event.

It's impossible not to get drawn into another debate about the VAR debacle after a night of nail-biting drama and high passions at Easter Road. The inconsistency when it comes to reviewing in-game incidents continues to leave football folk wondering if the very best technology available is actually improving the standard of officiating in Scotland.

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But we must look beyond the penalties awarded and ignored. Nick Montgomery had his say in the aftermath of last night’s 2-1 defeat to Celtic. It’s nothing we haven’t heard before, with virtually every manager in the land finding fault with VAR at some point this season.

Away from the disputed flashpoints and contentious non-calls, there was plenty for Hibs fans to mull over as they applauded the home side off the park at full-time. And what a change that was from Saturday’s festival of fury and frustration.

From a change of tactics to an impact sub hitting the game with all the force of a comet the size of the East Stand, there were angles to examine and topics to discuss. So let’s dive into the main Talking Points:

Myziane Maolida was a game changer

Substitutes are supposed to materially affect the pattern of play. Maolida certainly did that, with his pace and trickery causing all sorts of problems for Celtic. If he had scored with that overhead bicycle kick, Easter Road might still be shaking with the aftershocks.

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The trick now is to find a way to get the best out of the 24-year-old on a regular basis, from kick-off, in games that must be won if Hibs are to have any sort of shot at claiming one of the minor European places. In a team struggling to produce goals, he could be absolutely vital.

Hibs fans needed that

After the horror of Saturday, when a lot of supporters left before half-time in a humiliating 3-0 home loss to St Mirren, there was no chance that Hibs would turn in a performance as flat and lacking in fight again. The fans wouldn’t stand for it. Those who turned up – the official attendance seemed a little high, perhaps counting season ticket holders who had stayed away – at least saw some grit and determination.

Monty understood the importance of that, saying: “The fans have been amazing; I love the fans here. I understand them, I come from a working-class background myself.

“They work all week and want to see their team put in effort and a performance. I’ve questioned that effort once this season, but I’ve explained the facts as to why. It’s something that we owned and accepted. Tonight, you saw the level of desire and commitment that I expect of everybody in that Hibs shirt. I scratch my head as to why we were so flat at the weekend, but there’s been a lot of change.”

Dylan Levitt’s goal was a moment of pure joy

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Nobody could pretend that Levitt has been enjoying a purple patch of wonderful form of late. At times, his suffering has been painful to watch. And his recent failings – a lack of confidence and a consistent ability to give the ball away – were still evident for much of last night’s game.

Levitt scored with a superb strike.Levitt scored with a superb strike.
Levitt scored with a superb strike.

But that sweet, sweet strike from just outside the box, steering the ball beyond Joe Hart with a swing of his right boot, showed genuine quality. And must have come as an enormous relief to a player in need of something to lift his spirits.

The new shape works – in certain circumstances

True, deploying a five-man midfield made Hibs look passive in a first half of almost zero incident. At times, they looked to have six across the back line as Celtic piled on top of them. Yet the champions found it hard to break through.

In Nathan Moriah-Welsh, Hibs have found a defensive midfielder whose positioning and dig adds something to the mix. It already feels as if his team-mates have complete trust in the 21-year-old. Which is more than you can say about a video review system still failing to inspire confidence in the players and coaches affected by its selective application of scrutiny.

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