As disappointing as our failed promotion bid was, I’m convinced it won’t have a negative effect on Hibs in the Scottish Cup final.
The players, management and supporters have all had a week to get their head round last Friday’s events and I think everyone connected with the club will be fully focused and raring to go come 3pm tomorrow. In the circumstances, there is no bigger or better game for them to have than a cup final against Rangers to banish all the negativity of the last few months.
The players know they’re good enough to beat Rangers because they’ve done it twice already this season. We’ve obviously had a couple of major setbacks this season, so it will depend on each individual whether their confidence is affected, but generally we haven’t been a team who have suffered greatly with any shortage of belief. For all the disappointment at missing out on promotion, it shouldn’t be forgotten that we’ve been in pretty decent form over the last month or so.
If we’re to win the cup, we’ll need our highest-calibre players like John McGinn and Anthony Stokes to deliver. McGinn showed on his Scotland debut that he can handle the big occasion and he’s someone who clearly wants to impress and progress his career. Likewise, Stokesy came back to Hibs as a player with big-game pedigree. He hasn’t quite hit the heights since he joined us in January, but he’s shown signs of his quality recently and hopefully a cup final against Rangers will bring out the best in him. If we click on the day, then Rangers certainly won’t have it easy.
The manager has a few choices to make about who starts, but I trust him to pick those who are best suited to the pressure and demands of playing Rangers in a Scottish Cup final. He has a big call to make in attack because he’s probably going to have to leave out Jason Cummings, the top scorer, or James Keatings, the man of the match and two-goal hero in our last game. It’s not a bad problem to have because he’ll have two players champing at the bit to play.
Forget what’s gone before – I’ll certainly be going to Hampden believing we have a really good chance of finally bringing the cup back to Leith.