'No intensity': What Alex Neil thinks about Hibs

He is the early favourite for the Hibs job, and Alex Neil had plenty to say when watching the match that led to the departure of Jack Ross as a radio pundit.

By Matthew Elder
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 8:19 pm
Former Preston and Hamilton manager Alex Neil was in attendance at Hibs' 1-0 defeat in Livingston. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)
Former Preston and Hamilton manager Alex Neil was in attendance at Hibs' 1-0 defeat in Livingston. (Photo by Rob Casey / SNS Group)

The former Hamilton, Norwich and Preston manager was at the Tony Macaroni Arena on Wednesday as Livingston inflicted a 1-0 defeat on the nine-man visitors.

Neil was working for BBC Radio Scotland as he dissected a performance that led to the dismissal of Ross after a seventh loss in nine Scottish Premiership fixtures.

"It's a collective effort," Neil said. "So those [Hibs] players need to look at themselves.

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"What I saw from the Hibs players towards the end of the game, was some players feeling sorry for themselves.

"These boys have got a cup final coming up. If they think they are saving themselves for that, they are kidding on because based on that performance, if I was Jack I'd be thinking four or five of you wouldn't be playing in it.

"That intensity and willingness to do what's required, Livingston showed that tonight. The Hibs players didn’t."

Neil also singled out Hibs captain Paul Hanlon for criticism, insisting he should have been sent off for an earlier challenge on Andrew Shinnie before eventually seeing red for another mistimed tackle.

"The second one, if I'm being honest, summed up Hanlon's night for me," he said.

"I thought he was at fault for the first goal. I don't think he coped well with their striker for the whole game.

"He had a really disappointing evening."

After a bright start to the season, Hibs have now fallen 11 points behind third-placed Hearts and Neil reckons the contrasting fortunes of the Edinburgh rivals played a part in the fans’ anger towards Ross.

"In Scotland in particular, you are judged against your rivals much more so than you would be maybe down south," he explained.

"Because it's so condensed up here, if Hibs are not having a good time, they will be looking at Hearts.

"See if Hearts weren't doing well I don't think there would be as much pressure on Jack, if that makes any sense.

"The fact that Hearts have started the season well, and are sitting in third place having just come up, Hibs fans won't be happy with that.

"That's the thing that I think will hurt them the most. Celtic and Rangers fans are the same."

Neil also gave his thoughts on Ross' post-match interview, where the now ex-Hibs boss claimed full responsibility for the performance.

"It doesn't surprise me he's done that," Neil said. "I think as a manager sometimes, you look at your group of players and you make a conscious decision whether to come out and, not publicly criticise them, but make them share the burden of the responsibility.

"But equally if you look at your group and you think they are a little bit vulnerable, and mentally they're maybe not strong enough, they don't look as if they are going to rally and fight back, I think that's what Jack has looked at tonight and he's taken the burden of the loss on his own shoulders, to protect them.

"I know myself as a player, I would've been annoyed with that tonight because I would want him to share me in the responsibility for that. Because if I played in that game tonight I'd be thinking, ‘I've not done well enough. I need to get my finger out and start running about and influencing’.

"I would feel responsible for him standing there and taking the burden and the blame and I'd be thinking, 'wait a minute, we're culpable'."

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