New Hibs players will face a massive test of character at Ibrox
Ibrox on the second day of the season probably isn’t what Paul Heckingbottom would have wanted. The place is going to be rocking with Rangers supporters on something of a high following that win with the last kick of the ball at Kilmarnock.
If they’d been forced to settle for a draw as looked likely at Rugby Park it might have dampened spirits among the home fans but, instead, they’ll be right up for it and making the sort of noise you’d expect from a crowd of around 50,000 with only a few hundred Hibs supporters tucked away in that far corner.
But while it will be a test of character I’d think playing at places like Ibrox, Celtic Park and in the derbies against Hearts, both at Easter Road and Tynecastle, would be part of the appeal of coming to Hibs in the first place.
These are the sort of games any player worth his salt should be relishing. Yes, there will no doubt be a few nerves beforehand as the players line up in the tunnel and hear the racket outside, but once the whistle goes it’s all about focusing on the job in hand.
Steven Gerrard has clearly strengthened his squad again and this will be a completely different match to the St Mirren game. Rangers won’t be sitting in and looking to hit on the break - they’ll be intent on taking the game to Hibs from the first minute looking for that early goal which will ratchet up the noise level by another few decibels.
You have to be able to show you can handle such intimidating surroundings, that you are not going to be overawed by it all and that you can keep a clear head, avoid getting caught up in it all and execute the game plan the manager has no doubt spent this week working on.
Hibs have done reasonably well, both home and away, against Rangers in recent seasons and the experience of guys like Paul Hanlon, Steven Whittaker and Darren McGregor will be important as they try to help their new team-mates quickly adapt to the stresses and strains of playing the Old Firm.