My main concern prior to yesterday’s kick-off was how the new players that have fitted into the side would cope with the demands of an Edinburgh derby. After such a disappointing performance at Tannadice last weekend, I was apprehensive going into such a fixture with the players still dejected from losing three goals away from home in the opening match.
However, nobody could fault the efforts from both sides but a need for composure in the key areas was there for all to see. Yesterday’s 1-1 draw with our city rivals points in the right direction but there is still vast room for improvement across all areas of the pitch.
Going behind in the manner we did, it was important the players regrouped and pressurised the Hearts defence. Leigh Griffiths’ equaliser on the stroke of half-time put us deservedly back on level terms but no side could proclaim they had done enough in the second period to warrant all three points and the ultimate bragging rights.
It is only early days but we must find greater fluency and potency in the final third to pose any serious concerns to the opposition coming to Easter Road. I believe the addition of a couple of attacking players before the transfer window closes could go a long way to defining how we fare in this season’s SPL. I know Pat Fenlon and his management team are working tirelessly behind the scenes to bring success to the club. But we have to make sure the players coming in will enhance the quality of the squad and we are not just recruiting for the sake of bringing personnel in. It defeats the purpose entirely.
Both managers will view yesterday’s result as one point gained and a point to build on. The players who were new to the derby-day cauldron will now appreciate the meaning and history behind the most anticipated fixture in the city. We now face a tricky encounter away to St Mirren, who have began on a high taking four points in their opening two matches and will be a side brimming with confidence.
The manager will be fully aware players such as Leigh Griffiths need support throughout the course of the season. But the modern game never ceases to amaze me where sitting midfield players appear to be the pivotal role of any side. If you are putting so much pressure on a striker to score goals, I don’t think the goal return ratio will prove as effective with so little in the way of support in attack with individuals sitting so deep.
In all the great sides I have come across over the years, goals are what separate the mediocre from potential champions. Having a goal threat from both defence and midfield is just as important and eases the pressure on the front men to deliver. What would the likes of Terry McDermott of Liverpool and Rangers legend Ian Durrant be worth in value in the modern market? Both these excellent talents were powerful in dictating play, yet capable of getting forward and scoring goals.
Nothing comes close to replicating the derby passion and sitting there as a Hibs supporter, I must confess to be drawn into thinking how much I wanted to be out there on the pitch. The so-called bread-and-butter games have equal importance, but fail to encapsulate the passion and enthusiasm that fulfils the supporters in the stands when both Hibs and Hearts take to the field. It was of course disappointing to see so many empty seats in the home end yesterday, especially for a derby, but it’s up to the players to restore the supporters’ confidence by winning matches and hitting the top end of the SPL. We are going through a transitional period as a club after last season’s debacle but there is hope based on the commitment and endeavours shown by the players during yesterday’s match. This, however, must be replicated in the fixtures ahead which can help in restoring the club to being one of the more powerful forces in the Scottish game.