Although Hibs did well in the second half on Saturday, I was really disappointed with how we played in the first period.
We were very negative and gave Celtic far too much respect. We never played it like a semi-final – we looked intent on trying to stop them playing rather than imposing ourselves on the game the way we did at Celtic Park, and we got punished by losing two sloppy goals.
We didn’t have enough offensive players on the pitch in the first half and didn’t carry a threat until we made the changes.
We had a bit of a go in the second half and played much better, but we can’t get too carried away by that because we were 2-0 down at the time. We know we’re good enough to compete with any team on our day, but we left ourselves with far too much to do after the way we approached the first half.
We’ll need to start a lot better against Hearts tomorrow because they don’t look like they’ll be rolled over easily under Craig Levein.
It’s been a few years since we’ve lost a derby but this one will be different because Craig’s made them a lot stronger, more resilient and more organised than they were previously. I certainly don’t see it being as one-sided as the last time we played them in February. It’ll be a bigger test than it would have been a few months ago, especially as we’re not in great form ourselves. It’s all very well saying we’re playing well but we’ve only won two of our last nine games. Because of that, and the expectation that’s built around the team in the last few seasons, there’s a bit of pressure on Hibs tomorrow.
We need our midfield to be stronger than they were on Saturday because that’s an area where we’ve done well in recent derbies. We’ll need big performances from Marvin Bartley and John McGinn. We also need to be better up front because it’s not really clicking for us in the final third, apart from in the second half at Hampden when we had nothing to lose. We need to play positively, with a few more creative players on the pitch than we started with on Saturday – if we do that we’ll have a good chance of defeating Hearts.