Hibs boss Neil Lennon has sensationally threatened to quit in the wake of a derby defeat which means the Easter Road outfit will almost certainly finish the season in fourth place.
Hopes had been high that they could finish in the runners-up spot behind Celtic, but a 2-1 loss to Hearts at Tynecastle – branded ‘unprofessional’ by an unhappy Lennon – ended that dream.
And it led to an explosive after-match interview in which Lennon – contracted to Hibs until the end of the 2019–20 season – revealed he’ll be reconsidering his position at a time when he feels the Hibs squad will need rebuilt.
Adamant that finishing fourth in Hibs’ first season back in the Premiership following three years in the Championship was “unacceptable”, Lennon said: “Nothing lasts forever, I suppose.
“I have been here two years and made great strides but I have to think about myself and how I feel about the whole thing. Maybe I am a bit over emotional, but obviously fourth is not good enough.
“I will reconsider my position now over the summer. Just in general, I have things to think about myself, my own aims and ambitions, my own personal reasons but I cannot watch that in a derby – it’s not good enough.”
Lennon insisted he doesn’t feel he has taken Hibs as far as he can but, when asked if it came down to money, he claimed no budgets had been set for next season – and that he couldn’t say what it had been for this season.
He said: “It will come down to a lot. The squad is going to be different, we have a lot of work to do obviously. We have those things to think about but we are not moving in the direction in the right way at the minute.
“That might change but I am just not happy with tonight. Maybe it is a rash thing to say but I do this every summer. I do not know what they want. We have not had targets set for next season, I don’t know what the budget is for next season. I do not know what the budget is for this yet to tell you the truth.
“We’ve got a few loan players in, [Dylan] McGeouch is going to leave so we have a bit of surgery to do.
“I consider my position every year, whether at Celtic, Bolton or Hibs. I have some re-evaluation to do for my own personal thoughts or aims.”
Asked if he felt he had taken Hibs as far as he can, Lennon answered: “No, but do I want to do it? I have to think about that.”
Lennon was clearly furious at his side on the night, goals from Kyle Lafferty and Steven Naismith earning Hearts victory after an early second-half penalty from Florian Kamberi had hauled Hibs level.
And he was enraged at what he said were players choosing the wrong footwear, several of them slipping early in the game and thereafter looking ill-at-ease.
He said: “They threw it away, unprofessional it was not good enough. It looks like we are going to finish fourth which is unacceptable for me. We told the players before the game to make sure they have right footwear on.
“The pitch is perfect, hard underneath but there’s a dew on top, moisture and coolness in the air. Five minutes into the game, I have three players slip over under no duress then they are uncomfortable.
“Then they are not set, not sure footed, they looked wobbly. The game settled on another set-play another bugbear of mine because we give them plenty of warnings.
“I cannot accept players slipping over and then being nervous and anxious because they do not have the right footwear, it’s amateur stuff. And then we can’t defend a set-play. It’s amateur stuff.
“Hearts are a threat at set-plays, they work on them. In the throes of the game, they had maybe a good chance first half, second half they had nothing. We had three great chances but we did not have the gumption or stomach to make the difference.
“They have played tough games really well all season but, if they are not going to listen to me, if I am not getting my message through to them then maybe somebody else should come in and they’ll listen to him.”