'Outfought and outcompeted' - Hibs boss vents frustration after home humiliation
Embattled Hibs boss Nick Montgomery accused his players of lacking fight and a will to compete in their humiliating 3-0 home loss to St Mirren. And he said he fully understood the frustrations of supporters who booed his team off at half-time – and then headed for the Easter Road exits in their thousands.
Speaking after the visitors had enjoyed their biggest away win over Hibs since 1985, Montgomery – who saw his team fall three behind before half-time - confessed: “It’s a real difficult one to take. Disappointing. The first half was nowhere near good enough.
“We got outfought, outran, outcompeted – and we gave away sloppy goals. From there, it’s a mountain to climb against a decent team.
“Being outfought and outcompeted, there’s not many times I’ve said that here. But I have to accept that. The players accept that. It’s nowhere near good enough.
“In the second half we huffed and puffed. But you can’t get back into a game after showing that first-half performance.
“There’s been a lot of change, a lot of new players coming in. Paul Hanlon pulling out again this week meant I had to start young Nectar Triantis, who has only played a few games this season.
“None of them are excuses. They’re just facts. But this is probably the first time I’ve said we’ve been outcompeted. We understand, and I understand as a manager, that it’s not acceptable.
“I can understand the supporters’ frustration. There have been times this season where we’ve played really well and not got the result we deserve – and sometimes a couple of boos have been unjust.
“But today they were fully justified. We deserved the booing at half-time. At the end of the game? The second half was a lot better, we competed more, were probably unlucky not to get a goal or two and get back in the game. It wasn’t to be.
“But it was too late. We can’t give three-goal leads. We’ve come back from 2-0 down twice this season but 3-0 down is difficult.”
Montgomery, who had been full of optimism after three Deadline Day signings took his total of new recruits during the January window to seven, added: “I came in this morning with good energy at the end of a busy week bringing new players. It's going to take a little bit of time to get them into training and get them to gel, but I still thought we could have got a result today if we started better than we did. We just didn't start the game, so I accept that. “Last week we had that character. At Kilmarnock, not an easy place to go, we started really well and somehow went 2-0 down but we fought our way back into it and should have won it.
“There are good characters and good leaders in there - but today there wasn't. There was a lot of frustration there at half-time from myself and the players. We had to show more fight, more leadership and more desire and we didn't do that in the first half. The second half was better, but the game was dead by then and we were chasing an uphill task. We got exactly what we deserved.”
Hibs hope to have Socceroos Lewis Miller and Martin Boyle back for the visit of Celtic on Wednesday night, with the Aussies having exited the Asian Cup at the quarterfinal stage. But Rocky Bushiri will still be away after the Democratic Republic of Congo reached the AFCON semi-finals. Club captain Hanlon remains a doubt with an illness.