Ofir Marciano interview: I am my own biggest critic at Hibs

Ofir Marciano pictured at Hibs' training camp in the Algarve. Pic: SNS
Ofir Marciano pictured at Hibs' training camp in the Algarve. Pic: SNS
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The Hibs players may have been cursing Scott Bain as the Dundee goalkeeper staged a one-man show of defiance to win a point but, at the other end of the Dens Park pitch, Ofir Marciano was applauding the performance of his opposite number which won him the man of the match award and the praise of both Hibs boss Neil Lennon and his own gaffer Neil McCann.

Little did he think that day back in August that he and Bain would again find themselves rivals, but this time fighting over the Hibs No.1 spot, Bain snapped up by Lennon on loan after Marciano’s understudy Ross Laidlaw suffered a season-ending shoulder injury.

Scott Bain put in a man-of-the-match performance against Hibs earlier in the season. Pic: SNS

Scott Bain put in a man-of-the-match performance against Hibs earlier in the season. Pic: SNS

Bain surprisingly found himself surplus to requirements on Tayside, a bust-up with McCann that remains something of a mystery to outsiders resulting in the Edinburgh-born goalie frozen out and with no future with the Dark Blues.

Delighted to have found himself at Easter Road, however, Bain wants to make a clear signal to Israeli internationalist Marciano that he hasn’t simply signed up to warm the bench.

Marciano has found himself on the sharp end of Lennon’s tongue a couple of times this season, the Hibs boss criticising the goals he lost as Motherwell came back from 2-0 down to snatch a draw before branding him “unprofessional” for his part in Rangers scoring twice in the space of three minutes at Easter Road.

Marciano, however, professes to being unfazed by such withering criticism, while welcoming the renewed competition he now faces for the gloves.

Marciano has come under fire for some mistakes this season - including this one against Motherwell. Pic: SNS

Marciano has come under fire for some mistakes this season - including this one against Motherwell. Pic: SNS

Adamant any talks he may or may not have had with Lennon will remain private, he said: “I like to keep these conversations inside the dressing-room and not for the press, but if he decides to say things, I respect that. I have self-confidence and I know when I make mistakes and I know what to do to correct them.

“Hopefully I will make less mistakes. When you make mistakes in the Premiership you are punished more than in the Championship, but that is part of football when you move up a level.

“As a professional I take every game seriously and stay switched on all the time.

“It sounds like I am my own biggest critic. Yes, it’s the best way to make sure you give your best performance. You need to criticise yourself. All the world can criticise you and it doesn’t go in. But when you go to sleep at night you have to ask if you did your best, if you can do better. This is what I try to do every day, to be better. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But I try.

Head coach Neil Lennon now has plenty of competition within his squad. Pic: SNS

Head coach Neil Lennon now has plenty of competition within his squad. Pic: SNS

“As a goalkeeper you get punished for every mistake you make. It’s not like a striker who can miss goals then score one and nobody remembers the misses. But that responsibility is part of the job and a goalkeeper just has to accept that.”

On arriving at Easter Road, Bain revealed he felt his display as Dundee held Hibs to a 1-1 draw may have played a part in Lennon making him his first signing of this transfer window, and Marciano admitted it was certainly a performance he vividly remembers.

“He is a great guy and a great goalkeeper,” said Marciano. “When we played against Dundee earlier in the season, he was great. I was clapping him. I always clap when the goalkeeper on the other team makes a wonderful save. I know how to appreciate good saves. We had so many chances to win that game, but he made many good saves and we didn’t get the win.

“He is a good addition to the squad and the team. It’s good for the goalkeeper’s union to have a good goalie who will push us to be better.”

And as for the threat Bain might pose to his own place in Lennon’s side, the 28-year-old said: “All the way through my career I’ve always had a good relationship with the other goalkeepers. There’s a competition with Rossco, but the way I see it is I always need to prove myself. It’s good that I have competition but I always need to compete with myself. I take competition in a positive way.

“You need to show your abilities and be the best you can in every game and every training session. It doesn’t matter who the other goalies are. You just need to do your best for the sake of your career.”

Having initially been brought to Edinburgh on a season-long loan deal from Israeli club Ashdod, Marciano committed to a four-year contract in the summer and, those well-publicised mishaps apart, he insists he’s loving life in the top flight of Scottish football.

“For the first season in the top league we are doing good. But we all know we can be better. That is the only disappointment, but we will try and do better in the second half of the season. It’s great, we are fourth and that’s what we were aiming for at the start of the season. But we have a feeling that we can do more.

“I’m having a good season. I’ve played good games and I’ve made some mistakes. Every goalie makes mistakes, but I’m happy with my form and I hope to get better as the season goes on.”

Marciano has had the chance to get to know Bain and other new arrival, Australian striker Jamie Maclaren, that bit better during this week’s training camp in the Algarve, a trip he believes will pay dividends when Capital hostilities resume with Hibs heading across Edinburgh for another Scottish Cup derby with arch-rivals Hearts.

He said: “It’s good to be far away from the training environment you are used to every day. It’s great for the group to be together and build something good for the second half of the season. A change of scenery is nice sometimes. It’s a good idea. It is very good for the new players to integrate into the squad. We have a week together and we are getting to know each other and the rest of the players.

“Scott had to get up and sing a song for his initiation into the squad. I didn’t know the song, but he is a great singer and I was applauding that as well.”

Marciano admitted Tynecastle can be the most intimidating of venues for any visiting player – far less a goalkeeper with the home fans only a few yards from his back – but it’s a game he relishes, not least because of Hibs’ recent record against their old foes.

He said: “I like it because we have not lost since I have been here. I hope it stays like that after the winter break.

“The derby is something that will stay with me long after I retire. I love the atmosphere. It’s amazing, especially the away games at Tynecastle. You can really feel our fans behind us. But you can’t listen to the noise around you. You can’t think about things not connected to the game. I just focus on the match. But the atmosphere is nice. In Scotland it’s like that in most matches. The fans come and cheer. I’ve seen a few Portuguese games on the television here and it’s a good level, but you can’t barely see fans in the stands.

“I think football is made by fans and in Scotland you have the football culture with fans who love their football and make a great atmosphere.

“Hopefully we will finish it there, but if not, back at Easter Road and wait for the song with the fans, Sunshine on Leith, after the match.

“That’s the best moment of the season so far.”