Hibs goalkeeper Ofir Marciano has admitted he’d rather be idle for 90 minutes than pulling off spectacular saves.
The Israeli internationalist had no more than a couple of routine stops to make as Neil Lennon’s side kept their grip on top place in the Championship table with a 2-0 win over basement outfit St Mirren last weekend.
But, while conceding he’d love to be given opportunities to display his abilities to the full, the 27-year-old insisted he’s happy enough to lead the quiet life.
The shut-out against the Buddies was Marciano’s sixth of the season, five of them coming in the league and the other in the Irn-Bru Cup defeat of Highland outfit Turriff United but, he revealed, he’s intent on seeing that figure rise as the season wears on.
He said: “Sometimes you want to be busy to show people what you can do. You want to show your ability, but the most important thing is that you win the game and, if you keep a clean sheet, you obviously have a much better chance of doing so.
“We’re at the top of the table and we want to open the gap between us and the other teams as much as possible so tell me it’s going to be like that every week and I will take it.”
If the victory over St Mirren looked comfortable enough for Lennon’s players, Marciano insisted it was harder work than it might have seemed, tribute, he claimed, to the hard work of his team-mates.
“It may have looked comfortable,” he said, “But it was not that easy. No game is easy as it looks but we showed we wanted to win. The attitude of all the players was great and that’s the reason people might have thought it was easy.
“It was hard work, a good performance all-round with the boys pressing St Mirren every time they had the ball.”
Following on from the victory over Dunfermline at East End Park the previous week, Marciano agreed winning a second consecutive game was vital following a run in which Hibs took just three points from four Championship matches while St Mirren sent them tumbling out of the Irn-Bru Cup.
However, while that wobble began to raise question question marks over Hibs’ status as red-hot title favourites, Marciano – on a season-long loan from Israeli club Ashdod – insisted there were no such concerns in the Easter Road dressing-room.
He said: “It was good to get the two wins. We needed that after the stutter we’d had. But, all the time, we believed we had the ability to do that even although we did not win in four league games in a row. We still had a faith and belief in ourselves. We knew we just had to keep working hard in training every day and things would turn and so we’re happy that’s now happened.”
Now, insisted Marciano, he and his team-mates are determined to push on, the goalkeeper confident his own personal record – Hibs have conceded just six league goals this season to boast the second meanest back-line in Britain behind Tottenham Hotspur – can enjoy further improvement.
“For a goalkeeper, clean sheets are like goals to a striker,” he said: “I must be happy with the number I have but it’s not just me, all the players work very hard for that.
“It’s good for me as the goalkeeper not to be conceding many goals but, like the whole team, I just want to improve all aspects of my game and I will do that. The goals-against column looks good but the most important thing at the end of each match is that we’ve won the three points – that’s what we work hard to do every week.
“We’re happy to see ourselves at the top of the league. It’s a great confidence boost for everyone but we know we are going to have to work hard in every game to stay there. Every team wants to beat the side that’s at the top, to knock them down. But, with the confidence within the group and the qualities we have, I am sure we will get better and our performances will get better.”
The last two games have seen Lennon, with Liam Fontaine fit again after a couple of months out with a calf injury, return to playing three at the back with skipper David Gray and Lewis Stevenson pushing forward on either flank. However, regardless of the formation, Marciano insisted communication was the key, particularly between him and those directly in front of him.
He said: “I feel I have setted well. We have a very good group of people here who helped me and made it easy for me. I’ve been getting to know my back-line, whether it’s a four or a three. It’s important for a goalkeeper to build a good relationship with his centre-halves in particular, knowing what each other is going to do in any given situation.
“If there’s good communication it becomes that much easier. We work in training every day, every week on it so it can only get even better, Mistakes do happen, but it’s up to us to make sure they are as few and far between as possible.”
Hibs travel to face Ayr United – the only side to have inflicted a league defeat on them thus far – this Saturday but, claimed Marciano, he won’t be making the trip to Somerset Park intent on revenge.
He said: “It’s going to be another new ground for me, another new adventure as I we travel around Scotland so I’m looking forward to it. Yes, they beat us last time, but that’s football. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but it’s our job to make sure we win as often as we can. St Mirren put us out of the cup but we’ve now won twice in the league against them.
“Ayr may have beaten us last time but it’s not about revenge. The most important thing is getting the three points to keep us at the top of the table which, of course, is where we want to be come the end of the season. We have to focus on each game as it comes up, so we go to Ayr looking for a win, nothing less.”