Not ‘six of the best’ unfortunately as after six pre-season games Hibs have proved unable to hit the net in half a dozen attempts this summer so far. With capitulations (twice) in the Intertoto Cupagainst Sweden’s Elfsborg, a no-score draw with Raith Rovers and defeats versus the modest opposition of Cowdenbeath and now Clyde, the 6-0 drubbing from mighty Barcelona almost seems to appear quite reasonable.
Further home games against EPL outfits Middlesbrough and Wigan now pave the way to the first league fixture away toKilmarnock. There has to be a fair chunk of trepidation felt by the Easter Road faithful about these encounters and about the coming season in earnest to follow.
Remember the days when pre-season friendlies were of little note? Tradition might be for a good few Scottish teams to try their hand against English competition and apart from the odd shallow bragging right nobody really cared too much. It’s different nowadays isn’t it? Fans travel long distances and spend a lot of money to see their team on trips that often raise funds for some clubs or provide a busman’s holiday for teams’ players. I’m really not sure about this. Every game is there to be won of course and paying fans have the right to see a performance fitting of their admission fee but there now seems a lot of negativity created by defeats in these games.
I’ve never been a fan that particularly takes pre-season results too seriously what is happening at Easter Road concerns me a lot. Six games and not a solitary goal should worry anyone as evidently the team is not firing and creating chances. It should be obvious to state what a bad sign this is as alternatiely we can sometimes forgive a side that creates plenty of opportunities to score but fails to take advantage. To not carve out an opening or two however poses greater and deeper problems.
Mixu Paatelainen in angry mood
So what’s the big problem with Hibs? We all have our theories and many will share mine but this football team has been robbed of the nearly all its quality over the season or two. Many times this situation has been impossible to deny as young ambitious players wish to move on to pastures anew and huge wage increase and who can blame them. What is a greater problem is the way in which Hibernian have chosen to replace that young talent. Nearly always this means bargain basement buys, cheap ‘Bosmans’ and very ordinary journeymen players who represent the flotsam and jetsam on the fringes of international football way down to non-league. It’s no mystery why Hibs now find themselves in such an apparent mess. It was always fairly inevitable that this was going to happen.
Perhaps the long term way forward for Hibs is again in youth. This is being attended to via the new training centre at East Mains but chairman Rod Petrie really does need to address the issues of seeking and attracting better quality players in the short term. It’s rare that we get to know the real financial business of Hibs as mere supporters but it seems all too evident that the club simply don’t pay enough to draw better players to Easter Road. Petrie may think his financially prudent master plan is the way for Hibs to progress but personally I feel there is little balance in the way he runs affairs. This is still a football club, fans pay to be entertained and the same fans are now beginning to rebel against this tight fiscal policy that is strangling the team’s vitality. At times it feels as though the good work carried out over the past three seasons or so is being completely reversed. What a great shame it is to state that.
Finally I feel it’s a great pity to see another former Hibs hero in Mixu Paatelainen carrying the brunt of the blame in some eyes. I have to confess that whilst having the greatest respect for the Finn he wouldn’t have been my first choice for the Easter Road job. Nevertheless I feel that Mixu is being hung out to dry – just as previous manager John Collins was. The reasons that Collins appeared to have walked out of the club for could well be the same reasons that Mixu may soon leave for – namely a lack of support on team building issues from the Hibs board. Sad to say, Hibernian FC does not always learn from its mistakes.