Paul McGinn speaks on Hibs form dip, losing goals from crosses, facing Celtic, and pressure from fans

Whisper it, but Paul McGinn has the solution to Hibs’ form dip: beat Celtic, and all will be forgotten.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 6:00 am
McGinn believes the Hibs defence is capable of improvement

Were it so simple. But the Easter Road vice-captain is no stranger to perilous situations in Scottish football, having been deep in relegation battles and survived. That experience could be key as the Capital club plot an end to their three-game losing streak.

"Over the last few weeks we have been toothless,” the right-back admits.

"We had results last season against the likes of Dundee United where Benjamin Siegrist was unplayable, and we could take that on the chin.

Sign up to our Hibs football newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Paul McGinn knows Hibs beating Celtic will mean all is forgotten about their three-game run of defeats

"But the last few games we’ve barely laid a glove on the opposition. We managed to get that out of our systems as we spoke about it.

"These things happen in football. I've been in the game a long time now and if we start well and win the game then it will all be forgotten.

"I've been in dressing rooms where it's been a proper relegation battle. That’s a real crisis. I have seen the worst of it.

"I was at St Mirren when Oran Kearney came in and we managed to stay up, so I've seen both sides.

Paul McGinn: "Hibs should be a top four club. So if we come out of that then the fans shouldn't be happy"

"I'd rather not be having those kinds of conversations. These things happen in all walks of life and I'm just glad we have a game tonight.”

Celtic are the visitors this midweek on Scottish Premiership duty. Is that the ideal match for a team looking to overcome poor form?

"Any game where you get a win is the perfect game, but it could be a full house so it would be the perfect win for us,” McGinn continues.

"Not winning has obviously been the biggest issue but we also haven't managed to get a settled team. I was out, Kyle Magennis was out, Ryan Porteous was out, but it just shows you how quickly things can change.

"We were sitting at Ibrox with a goal lead, playing well, looking strong and then three games later it's all starting to look like a bit of a drama.

"We have an experienced squad here so we know not to get too worked up about this run of defeats.”

Drama. Not a crisis, or mini-crisis – drama. McGinn chooses this word because there certainly isn’t any panic from the players.

"We are lucky to have an experienced dressing room. There are a few of us who've been through things like this,” he adds.

"None of us like the fact that we aren't everyone's cup of tea at the minute but we know how quickly it can change. We know a win over Celtic will mean all is forgiven.

"We know this could be a big game for us.”

The visitors haven’t tasted victory in a league game at Easter Road since 2014 and although there have been a couple of cup wins, McGinn anticipates a stern task against Ange Postecoglou’s outfit.

"I knew we had a good record at Easter Road but I didn't know it was that good. Celtic will be champing at the bit to get rid of that,” he predicts.

"It's not a record which Celtic will have at many grounds so we know they'll be coming here with all guns blazing so we will need to be at our best."

After the Dundee United defeat there was a lot of jeering and booing from the home stands and after the loss in Aberdeen, some rather vitriolic comments on social media from supporters. Is pressure from the fans an issue?

"There is pressure as over the last 18 months we've been expecting to beat most teams so even drawing with St Mirren at home brought pressure. It's just something we need to deal with and it'll be the same at Celtic,” McGinn explains.

"[Criticism and pressure] is probably what we want as Hibs should be a top-four club, so if we come out of that then the fans shouldn't be happy.

"We want to be seen as a team which shouldn't come out of that top four. We need to take that sort of pressure, we need to make sure it is just a blip, and hopefully we can look back on it and remember the fans were all wanting our heads.

"It's the same with the Old Firm but they are expected to win every game.”

Jack Ross and Lewis Stevenson both highlighted the toothlessness in the final third against Aberdeen, while McGinn also references it. Is the team badly missing the injured Christian Doidge?"He gives us a different style. If we are finding it hard to break a team down such as Aberdeen who sat in during the second half then we had to put a lot of balls out wide and he gives us that threat from crosses,” McGinn continues.

"Maybe we are missing that a wee bit just now but it only becomes an issue when you start losing. When we were on a good run nobody was saying he was being missed so maybe it's about players finding that form they had earlier in the season. We don't need to look far to find it.”

Hibs have developed an unfortunate habit of conceding goals from crosses, with Christian Ramirez’s winner for the Dons coming from a Calvin Ramsay centre. As a full-back, McGinn is front and centre for criticism.

"There was a stat from last season where we barely conceded from a cross ball. This season we are on a run where every ball in seems to result in a goal. It can be just the way your luck goes at times,” he adds.

"We just need to work to make sure it just becomes a wee spell of bad luck and doesn't become the norm. It's the same boys and we know we can defend well for a whole season.

"We just need to get back to doing what we were doing last year.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.