Michael Weir: Pre-season will be huge for Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom
Europe was always going to be a long shot as far as we were concerned, and so it proved to be.
Paul Heckingbottom’s players had put together a fantastic run of ten matches unbeaten in the league to raise our hopes but I think they just looked a bit flat at Ibrox.
Losing that late goal in the derby had lengthened the odds considerably and perhaps subconsciously Kilmarnock’s win at Tynecastle the previous day – taking both them and Aberdeen seven points ahead of us – had a bearing on the performance against Rangers.
One thing these weeks under Heckingbottom have shown me is that the squad certainly needs to be enhanced over the summer. Yes, there have been injuries although they are now clearing, sadly a bit too late to have had a great impact, but it’s quite a statistic to learn that Ryan Gauld became only the 13th player to have started a game under the new boss.
It was Gauld’s first match since the beginning of February and, while there’s no doubting his talents, it was a big ask for him to do it at Ibrox.
But I expected a lot more from the team in general, it was a pretty tame performance and, although we did have a decent amount of the ball, it was very much a case of it being where Rangers wanted us to have it.
We looked a bit conservative rather than getting right up against them and having a real go. We looked well-organised, well-drilled but lacked a bit of creativity.
Heckingbottom clearly has his own ideas on how he wants his side to play but it’s difficult to introduce them during the course of a season so he’ll no doubt be looking forward to using the pre-season, which is an important time of year for any club, to fully get across just what he’s looking for. I’m sure he’ll be a long way towards finalising just what he wants in terms of new players as he moulds his own squad, something the fans will be anxious to see.
In the meantime, there’s still a lot up for grabs. We’re in fifth place, a position many felt was beyond us only a few weeks ago, and the fans will be desperate to see us finish above Hearts once again.