Paul Heckingbottom calls on Hibs players to put up a fight
Under-siege Hibs boss Paul Heckingbottom has demanded his players show the fight required to halt the slide which has taken them to second bottom of the Premiership table.
Defeat by rivals Hearts, despite having been in front thanks to Stevie Mallan’s strike, has left the Easter Road club without a league win since the opening day of the season and with just one win since they enjoyed a victory at Tynecastle in early April.
But while claiming on review of the derby that he’d be pleased with “lots of bits of the game”, the head coach admitted that was overshadowed by the final result for a team which he’s previously branded “soft”.
Hibs’ dire record has put Heckingbottom’s seven month reign in the Capital at serious risk, the former Barnsley and Leeds United manager having conducted a major overhaul of his squad over the summer but to little effect.
Adamant he can still turn things around, he admitted, however, he’s beginning to sound like a broken record talking about how “we were great for so long but couldn’t kill the game off and have come away with nothing”.
It won’t get any easier, a Betfred Cup tie against Kilmarnock at Rugby Park - where they were beaten 2-0 only a few days ago - on Wednesday night followed by a visit from champions Celtic who have scored more than five times as many goals as Hibs in winning their opening six Premiership matches.
Heckingbottom, though, insisted his players have to learn how to live with the pressure their predicament brings saying: “Any top level sport, the most important aspect of it is mental. Without a doubt, the most important aspect.
“You go through times, we’ve all done it, I have as a player and a manager, when things aren’t going your way. You’ve got to stand up.
“What you can’t do is sit and wait and hope to win the next game. You have to fight with everything you can to win it. Not just me, every player and every member of staff. It’s a collective.
“Sometimes you don’t get what you deserve, but over a longer period, you will. So you just have to fight.”