Paul Hanlon urges Hibs not to brush off Celtic capitulation as he explains best way to bounce back
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Hibs haven’t lost by such a heavy margin to the Hoops since a 6-0 defeat at the same venue in December 2003, as James Forrest hit a hat-trick, Giorgos Giakoumakis notched a brace, and Daizen Maeda added a sixth. A goal ten minutes after half-time by substitute Élie Youan to reduce the deficit to 3-1 was as good as it got for the visitors, who were simply unable to cope with the speed and quality of their opponents in the final third.
“It was really stuff and we got off to a poor start. Coming here, you know it's going to be difficult but to give away a couple of goals early on makes it an uphill task,” Hanlon said during the Parkhead post-mortem
"Even after that we didn't really do enough to stop the flow of goals coming in. It's really disappointing and one we'll have to debrief heavily and learn as much as we can. It’s hard to put a finger on what exactly went wrong but we probably didn’t put enough pressure on them around our box and didn’t get enough contacts with putting tackles in and things like that.”
His manager Lee Johnson cast aspersions on the mentality of some of his players as he reviewed the 90 minutes and Hanlon attempted to explain what he thought his gaffer had meant.
"I think what he means is that we didn't really put our stamp on the match and didn't get close to Celtic and stop them and their rhythm. We worked hard as a unit, we covered the pitch but without affecting Celtic enough,” the club captain offered.
"When you play against good quality players, it's always going to be difficult but losing early goals makes it even more hard. Their style of play, their high press and attacking football... I imagine as a Celtic fan it's exciting to watch and it's definitely hard to play against."
While not shirking the magnitude of such a crushing defeat, Hanlon insisted that it was one bad performance and Friday night’s history-making cinch Premiership encounter with St Johnstone at Easter Road – the first Scottish top-flight game to be played with Video Assistant Referees (VAR) – is the perfect opportunity for the Capital club to readjust.
“We can’t just brush it off. We’ve got a big fanbase and there’s a lot of pressure on us in terms of expectancy,” Hanlon stated. “We’ve got a big game coming up now. We always need to look at what we cold do better, no matter the opposition. Teams will come here and have tough afternoons like we have but we need to go over every goal and reaction and see how we can all improve.”
Describing Hibs’ consecutive defeats by Dundee United and Celtic as a ‘wee bump’, Hanlon continued: “We were in a really good place in terms of confidence and performance. We need to refocus, learn from what went wrong on Saturday and try to get back to where we were. We need to make sure now that St Johnstone is a positive result.”