Michael Weir: I had one gripe with Jack Ross' cup final team - but Hibs players didn't handle the occasion

I had a good feeling about Hibs going into the Scottish Cup final, but truth be told the performance left me sickened.

By Michael Weir
Monday, 24th May 2021, 12:30 pm
Hibs players collect their runners-up medals after Scottish Cup final defeat to St Johnstone (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Hibs players collect their runners-up medals after Scottish Cup final defeat to St Johnstone (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

My only worry was whether they could handle the occasion, and it looked like it got to them because there was no energy about the team all over the park. No drive or determination. From the first whistle they just never got going and caused no threat whatsoever to St Johnstone, who looked very comfortable in their surroundings.

All the credit goes to Callum Davidson and his players because they've shown once again that when it comes to big games they know how to win. They had the will to do it, whereas we just never turned up. There was no spark about us which I found quite alarming. You go into a cup final and can't find a spark?

There's definitely a mental fragility about our side, and you can't keep making excuses. You can't keep losing games like that and expect to turn the corner. At some point you've got to get over the line. For a club like Hibs it's unacceptable that you can turn up to a cup final and not produce anything. It's a mentality that needs to change. Whether that will come with experience, only time will tell. But we can't keep turning up in cup finals and semi-finals and not performing. You don't mind getting beat when a bit of luck goes against you, but when you're not performing consistently in big games, then there's something wrong that needs addressed.

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There are some Hibs fans turning on Jack Ross. That's an emotional reaction, which is always going to happen after losing a final in the manner we did. The games we've really needed to turn up in we've not done it. When that happens there are always going to be people questioning the manager - that's just the way football is - but once you send the players onto the pitch it's out of your hands to a degree. Tactics aren't the most important thing in a cup final. It's how the players handle it and how far they push themselves to win. Jack put out a team that finished third in the league, 18 points ahead of St Johnstone, and nobody showed up.

There's only one thing I would question him on. It's a Scottish Cup final, and I looked at our midfield and we're playing with two sitting midfielders. That was my only qualm with the team. If you're going to win a final you've got to go for it, but we allowed their midfield to run the show. They completely dominated the game. I thought we needed more of a forward thinking side to go and win the cup. I just think we looked laboured. We didn't have enough support from middle to front.

You only get one shot at a cup final and you have to go for it. If you're going to get beat, get beat having a real go. All Hibs supporters would expect that. Go with a real attack-minded team. I'll always be miffed by managers who go into a final with thoughts of trying to sneak it instead of going for the jugular to win the game. When it went up front we had nothing from the sides and nothing coming from the midfield to support. Our front three never took part in the game. If they don't do anything for us then we struggle. That's something that needs to be looked at.

No doubt it has tainted the season. We did well to finish third and get a European place. I'm delighted with that like any supporter is. But I'm majorly disappointed in the cup competitions. We had the opportunity to win both the League Cup and Scottish Cup and blew it. We've had three no shows at Hampden. You'll never get a better chance with Celtic and Rangers being out of both competitions so early. I don't think that will happen again for a while. For us to have a no show looks as if we're just happy to get to semi-finals and finals, and if we win them we win them. That's not Hibs. Hibernian Football Club is built on trying to win trophies.

I thought the lack of experience really showed. You could tell St Johnstone had already been to a cup final and won, whereas we had one player in the starting 11 who had previously won something at Hampden. It showed big style. If you look at the Hibs bench we had three players from 2016 but they are on the bench because they have been on the periphary this season. Those players who are being picked week in, week out have got to show they can handle these games. You can't keep covering for them, or taking them out for big games, otherwise you're just covering over cracks. Somewhere along the line these players have got to show they can handle playing for Hibs, first and foremost, because the expectations will only get bigger now that we're in Europe, but also that they can be trusted in these big games.

I've said it before but we've definitely got to bring pedigree players to the club. Maybe three or four who have played at the top level who can give us that wee bit of know-how to win cups, and give us a favourable chance of getting into Europe every season - and doing well. We need players who can handle the big occasions. You can't keep getting into these big games and failing. Saturday showed me we still don't know how to handle these occasions and something has to be done about it.

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