The alarm bells are not ringing just yet because it’s still early in the season, but Hibs are not in a good place at the moment.
A few fringe players were given a chance against St Mirren on Saturday and they never took it. That’ll be worrying for Neil Lennon because he’ll have expected those who came in to step up and stake a claim for a jersey.
The manager’s been let down by a few players recently and I think he’s perfectly entitled to let them know. Neil seems more likely to have a pop at the players than Alan Stubbs, who preferred to put an arm round the shoulders of the players and protect them. There is no right or wrong way to do it – it just depends how a manager feels certain players will react.
If Neil believes some of the players need to be told some home truths, then they just need to handle that. Part of being a professional footballer is coping with criticism because when things are not going well, it comes from all angles. For me, there’s nothing wrong with a manager telling players if he feels they’re not reaching the standards.
Even though some of them are young, there’s no point in sugar-coating it and telling players they’re doing well when they’re not, otherwise they’ll never get better. Sometimes you’ve just got to call a spade a spade, and I don’t think Neil’s ever shied away from that.
I’m not worried about the players going into their shell because the majority of this group showed last season they can deal with adversity when they bounced back from a difficult finish to the league campaign and won the Scottish Cup the following week. They showed real bottle to bounce back last term and I’ve got no doubt that they’ll do the same this time.
We’ve still got a good team with good players. We just need everyone to step up the workrate a wee notch and the ability will shine through again. I think there’s possibly been a bit of complacency after the strong start we made but there certainly shouldn’t be any slackness on Saturday when we face a good Raith Rovers side who will be fired up under ex-Hearts boss Gary Locke. It’ll be a really difficult test, but I’m confident this Hibs side have enough about them to get back on track.