I’d the pleasure of attending the Hibs v Killie game last Saturday, courtesy and kindness of Comrade Allen for the past few days and I’d just like to add a few observations from a distant fan’s point of view. Being in such a position of course can only afford a ’snapshot’ view of Hibs’ fortunes but hopefully relevant in its own way. Several people told me that I was lucky enough to have watched something like the Hibee’s best performance of the season and for that I can only be grateful. It was pointed out to me by Sean that my last three visits north had witnessed a harvest of some fourteen goals for the Green Jerseys! I am seriously open to offers of a free train ticket for the next derby game if anyone is inclined…
Watching the Killie game in isolation would have made anyone wonder what the recent ire following Hibs has been all about. I’d like to hope in all seriousness that the game was just an example of the newer players finally beginning to find their feet and gell together as a unit, operating under Johnny Collin’s individualistic tutelage. And so to the people that really count, the players.
It’s clear that the man-of-the-match award should rightly be awarded to hat-trick man, Clayton Donaldson and it was interesting watching his generally lively performance all afternoon. His is a deceptive pace and truly that quality and his elusiveness troubled Killie all afternoon. Gratifying it was too to see his link-up with both Fletcher and latterly Curier, both of these partnerships showed some promise enough to give the manager a selection problem or two in the upcoming games. Whilst not the most fluent of players, Donaldson shows a predatory instinct in front of goal, evidenced very well by his first marker which was a true striker’s goal taken clinically.
In a Hibs performance enhanced by several excellent individual displays I’d like to mention in particular the second-half performance of Kevin McCann. His considered play at full back in the first half was impressive enough but he really came into his own when moved into midfield after the break. Cool, calm and collected, Kevin’s game seems to be all about composure. He has the hallmark of all good players in that he hardly ever seems rushed in his play due to this excellent technique and reading of the game. Yet another fine Easter Road prospect I believe.
I had looked forward to seeing Guillaume Beuzelin again. I’ve always been an admirer of the Frenchman and in the first half prior to his injury he did not disappoint. One thing I noted was in how beneficial it would be if another similar flair player to him could be found to play alongside him. I feel that he would be an even greater influence with another midfielder who reads his game a little better. Beuzelin has the ability to stand in the middle of the pitch and run the game in my opinion – either from a midfield role or even as a ‘libero’ type sweeper. A quarter-back type role if you will.
Observing Steven Fletcher’s progress was a delight. Fletcher as we know is a natural goal-scorer and in that way was always worth persevering with but there are new elements rapidly being added to his game it seems. His work as a target man in certain situations was sterling stuff, very artful in the way of a big Mixu who has been around and learnt his trade. He has a good eye for the angles and picks his strike partner out well with some deft and delicate touches. I’m not convinced about the noises emanating from Easter Road about Steven learning to use that right foot more effectively but his left one sure is s beauty.
Hibs have a promising new option of playing a target man in Mickael Antoine-Curier. Although arriving at Easter road with no great pedigree his robust play in holding up the ball and feeding his team mates was only matched by his strong physique for the job. Just maybe John Collins has unearthed a cut-price gem and a player that gives Hibs a different element up front.
Theirry Gathuessi’s substitute performance was an interesting one. He showed real flair at times in beating his man with some ease. I believe we will see good things from him and of course that has the double benefit of releasing McCann for a midfield role if necessary. In defence it need hardly be said that David Murphy had his apparently usual excellent game. Murphy’s big bonus is that he appears to be a most consistent performer, rarely placing a foot wrong during the game. His is the game of a seasoned professional who knows his game and how to play his position well. One slight comment I’d make without hopefully being too churlish is that I’d like to se him cut out those occasional hopeful crosses from too-deep positions but rather work his wing more. That point brings me on to the enigmatic Alan O’Brien.
It doesn’t take an expert psychologist to state that there is clearly something wrong with O’Brien’s mental attitude and I believe working on that will be the key to increased performances. At times he looked almost terrified of receiving the ball in certain positions. In one incident he received the ball to his feet from Murphy three times in quick succession and although albeit in a marked position refused to even contemplate the thought of taking his full-back on without a little momentum to aid him. Watching him closely his facial expressions looked very tense and his body language stiff. He is most obviously a strong and fast athlete however and covers the grass very quickly, efficiently and smoothly. His two superb crosses from the left only served to make his display even more frustrating. Hibs will have a very dangerous player here if they can only work on getting his head right to play the game in a green shirt.
There were very few minuses for Hibs against Killie. the two debutant youngsters gave a warm glow to anybody worrying that the procession of great youth talent might just be slowing down. How do Hibs do it? The service they receive from the staff producing our young players is just fantastic, much credit is due to them.
An enjoyable afternoon out at good old Easter Road then. Well done the Hibs and haste me back!