'It's hard for the players to hear' - Shaun Maloney addresses Hibs fans jeering James Scott and Drey Wright
Shaun Maloney has spoken for the first time about the negativity from Hibs fans that greeted the arrival off the subs bench of James Scott and Drey Wright in the 2-0 victory over Ross County last weekend.
The pair came on for the last 15 minutes replacing Kevin Nisbet and Ewan Henderson but there was audible jeering from sections of the home support at Easter Road when the switch was made.
Maloney voiced strong support for his players as he addressed the fans’ reaction ahead of the Scottish Premiership meeting with Celtic in Leith on Sunday.
“It’s really hard for the players. I would never tell a fan what they should be thinking – this is their club – but it’s hard for the players to hear that,” he explained.
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"These players have been really good. Drey’s been really good for me; James has trained extremely hard and I feel that some of this I’ve inherited."
Why he made changes
Taking steps to explain his thinking behind the changes, the Hibs boss added: “I don’t understand the negativity about this, because of how hard they’re training.
"Both of them came on at a stage where we were winning 1-0. Kevin and Ewan had worked extremely hard out of possession and there were things I needed from James and Drey in those positions and in that game they covered a lot of distance for the team.
"Drey did that, and I needed a striker with a certain profile at that point to try and put pressure on Ross County and James gave us that, with speed in the final area and strength. That’s what he brought to us.
“It’s hard for both players to hear that. I wish the pressure had just been on me to take everything away from the players.”
Similiarities with Nisbet
Maloney has been in football for a considerable amount of time as a player and coach but insisted it was a new experience as he likened it to Nisbet’s situation.
“ I haven’t heard that before. I felt similar with Kevin, but that’s slowly changing. I feel that there’s a real connection starting between the support and Kevin – both ways.
"I understand that it has to be a two-way street. Kevin is working extremely hard out of possession and that’s probably the moment when fans can show their real support."
Maloney conceded that perhaps part of the issue is that Scott and Wright are not getting as much gametime as others to show their worth. Hull City loanee Scott has come off the bench in four of the last seven league games while Wright has started two games and been a substitute in four more games since Maloney’s arrival.
The Easter Road boss continued: “Drey and James are working just as hard but they’re maybe not getting the minutes on the pitch to really show that. They’ve acted as professionally as possible and both are really committed to the club.
"Those two players know how much support I can give them. I play them, I pick them – that’s a big indication of how much I think of them.
"And it’s not just those two – it’s every player, particularly when they have difficult moments like that. That’s when the manager has to give them full support.”