Although I expected a bit of a drop-off from Hibs this season in light of the players we lost in the summer, I didn’t anticipate it being as bad as this.
I still believe we’ve got a good squad and a top manager but we’re in a position where we need to try and ride out the storm and just grind out a result from somewhere. We won’t do that if we keep conceding cheap goals, though.
With that in mind, I can totally see why Neil Lennon picked so many defensive players for Saturday’s game at Kilmarnock. It’s all very well wanting to play expansive attacking football and taking the game to the opposition, but when you’re in a situation like this, sometimes you just need to go back to basics and try and be hard to beat to give yourself a chance. When you’re losing goals the way we have been this season, you’re not giving yourself much chance of picking up points. We are going to need to keep the back door shut if we want to get back on track.
We are a team low on confidence at the moment. Our midfielders and our attackers are not playing well and our defence has looked vulnerable this season so I can understand why Neil felt the need to try and be compact and hard to beat against a good Killie side.
Obviously the plan didn’t work on a Saturday because we simply didn’t play well, individually or as a unit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Neil’s team selection was wrong. He’s experienced enough to know that, when things are not going well and confidence is low, sometimes you just need to keep it simple and try and grind things out.
Even though we were a good attacking side renowned for playing good football last season, we were also a powerful, resolute unit as a team. We were a tough team to beat last year. If we got in front, you’d always fancy us to go on and win. But we have lost that solidity this season and we need to get it back if we’re to have any chance of getting out of this situation. We can’t be losing two or three goals a game and expect to win games, so sorting out the defence has to be the priority. We need to start getting clean sheets again and that will help get the confidence back throughout the team. It’s a worry though that we were so weak defensively when we had so many defenders in the team. I can’t put my finger on it because it’s generally the same personnel but we look really soft this year. We won’t be finishing in the top four this season if we keep conceding goals at the current rate.
I think we’ve got enough firepower in the team but the strikers seem to be playing without confidence at the moment. The whole team is suffering with a lack of belief, and that happens when you lose games. The confidence just drains from you and every game becomes more of a struggle than when you’ve been winning regularly. You could see that in their body language on Saturday - they weren’t playing with the same intensity.
We don’t look like a team who are playing with enough confidence to score three or four goals to win a game at the moment, so our best bet of a victory is to make sure we keep things tight. We’re still more than capable of beating St Mirren tomorrow night but as the last home game against Dundee showed, we can’t take anything for granted.
All it takes is one result to get us back on track and if we’re switched on defensively, individually and as a unit, I don’t see why we can’t get back to winning ways tomorrow.