Hibs star Marc McNulty: The Jambos have gone quiet on my Twitter feed
Marc McNulty enjoys indulging in a bit of social media banter with both Hibs and Hearts supporters.
But this week, he revealed, Hearts fans appear to have gone strangely quiet now he and his team-mates have leapfrogged them in the Premiership table, an unlikely scenario when he first arrived at Easter Road on loan from Reading.
Back then Olly Lee’s wonder strike had left Hibs languishing seven points behind their city rivals with a top-six place increasingly looking as if it would be outwith their grasp.
However, on Sunday Craig Levein’s players will make the short trip across the Capital for the final Edinburgh derby of the season three points in arrears of Hibs and their fans seemingly wary of what lies ahead given how slowly ticket sales have gone in Gorgie.
A first victory at Tynecastle in six years has, on the other hand, helped fill Paul Heckingbottom’s men full of confidence, that win part of an impressive nine-match unbeaten league run under their new head coach which has propelled them on to the fringes of the race for a place in next season’s Europa League.
“When I first came here we were quite a bit off,” recalled the Scotland striker. “I have mates who are Hearts fans who were giving me it tight, telling me so.
“I still have banter with them telling them ‘remember I told you we would catch you’. The gap was massive and a lot of fans thought Hearts were challenging for the title and we were struggling and going to be bottom six.
“So it is good to be part of a Hibs team that has put a run together and we feel like the fans are backing the side. When I first arrived, it felt like it was on edge a little, but now there is a good feeling around the stadium and the atmosphere is great for the boys.
“The boys have been great, the manager has come in and done great and it is good to be part of the team on that form.”
McNulty was seen cupping a hand to his ear as he and his team-mates celebrated having come from behind to win the previous derby only four weeks ago, but again, he insisted it was no more than good natured banter.
“The atmosphere that the fans build is great, the Hearts fans booing and whatever. I enjoy that. They weren’t enjoying our celebrations after the game, giving us pelters. So I thought I’d give some banter back.
“Winning at Tynecastle was great. You don’t want to lose any game, but the first game you don’t want to lose is against Hearts – every player and fan will tell you the same. It felt better being a local lad.
“I follow a lot of Hearts and Hibs fans, I see a lot on Twitter and it was all about how bad Hibs’ record was going there and how Hearts have the superiority . . . all that nonsense.
“It was a chance for us to go and change all that and we were confident.”
Rather than be deflated by having Hibs’ poor record at Tynecastle highlighted time and again, McNulty insisted it had the opposite effect on him, claiming his skin is thick enough to take the barbs hurtled in his direction via social media.
“I know you can’t read into the outside stuff too much but it depends how you view it,” he said. “Some players will read stuff and take it as a negative and some players will take it and use it as a bit of fire to go and do the business.
“That’s the way I took it. I knew how bad Hibs’ record was with not winning for so long and I used that as an opportunity to help them change it. I think it’s important to engage with fans on social media. You leave yourself open to abuse and it’s not right getting abuse, but that’s the world we live in and you can’t hide from that.
“You need to be thick-skinned enough if you’re going to engage with fans, you need to be able to take it back. There’s obviously a line and it should never go over the word banter. There is a line people cross and as a player you leave yourself open to that, but I’m thick-skinned to take it.”
McNulty’s Twitter feed, however, has been rather quiet this week as far as Hearts fans are concerned. He said: “I’ve not heard much to be honest.
“They’ve been pretty quiet and I’ve not had much abuse on social media. This week we’ve just been concentrating on ourselves and I’ve tried to stay off that for most of the week.
“I have seen a few bits about them struggling to sell the full ticket allocation and I don’t know why that is. I don’t think Hibs would have that problem.”
Although he supplied the pass for Daryl Horgan to get the first of his two goals the other week, McNulty has been a little frustrated that his own name hasn’t appeared on the score sheet recently.
Chances have come and gone that he would have expected to have tucked away but he said: “I’m still confident that given the next chance I am going to score. If it ends up being an assist to help win the game then I will still be delighted. If I can get a goal it would be a bonus, a derby goal would be right up there.”