Hibs: The State of Play

Dundee United 1 Hibernian 0

‘Our bubble is well and truly burst’

‘The Jambos and Dundee Utd. have much more character than us’

‘9 out of 10 for talking the talk, but you’re definitely on a downward spiral trying to walk the walk’ (of Manager John Hughes)

‘We are softer than a marshmallow’

‘No bottle No desire No belief No winning mentality No winners in the team’

‘If Derek Riordan isn’t dropped for the next game, I’ll begin to question Yogi’s sanity as a manager, as he was the laziest, gutless b*****d on the park today’

‘I’ve often suspected that Zemmama was a bit of a malingerer’

The above are just a few of the comments I picked up on the Internet after Hibernian’s 1-0 defeat at rivals Dundee United yesterday. It should be said that others held a more pragmatic view of the current state of Hibs however and that these were the angry remarks of post-game supporters. The game was a genuine four-pointer that’s for sure. To compound the disappointment, an opportunity to gain gain ground on Celtic who dropped two points at home to Falkirk was lost.

I often think Hibernian FC seems to lack that little bit of grit or steel when crunch situations loom on the horizon. As a supporter one can never feel confident when they’re faced with these challenges. I am still slightly surprised though to hear how they seemed to go down without much of a whimper yesterday and I perfectly understand why and how people get so upset about that.

I’m not sure why we seem to have this lacking. Is it an ingrained culture at the club? Hard to believe when you look at the season-on-season turnover of both players and managers. I do sometimes think Hibs tend to have a lack of ‘leaders’ out there on the park – players who can perform well when the team isn’t doing so, as a whole. Whatever their many merits, the likes of Riordan and Zemmama can become invisible when the chips are down, as talented as they are.

Derek Riordan

There are times when you just have to roll your sleeves up and scrap for everything, times when pretty football has to go out of the window. I never feel that Hibs are able to understand this, or at least act upon it.

I remain optimistic about this club, both on and off the field. Yesterday was a low blow and I do believe some of the reaction to it was hysterical, as seems to be the case these days – either negatively or positively. Taking a holistic view of things Hibs are clearly in a poor patch of form – something which most clubs go through at least once during a season – but nevertheless stand fourth in the SPL with a game in hand and the opportunity to slip straight back into third place. Additionally and impressively the team has lost only four games all season long.

There is quality at Hibs but in my view the ever-evolving team building will result in improvements in key areas when the opportunity arises for John Hughes.

Looking at individuals I see Hogg, Rankin and Nish in particular as being under threat. The former I’ve always felt to be a very ordinary centre back with fairly poor distribution for the type of style Hibs aim to play. Every team needs a player to get through some selfless work in midfield and he certainly does that, but when I witness Rankin, I see a man chasing shadows and one without the necessary quality. I think Nish is a game big lad but is curiously poor in the air for his size and extremely ungainly on the ground. I simply don’t think he is good enough for the level Hibs are driving towards.

The Easter Road job is a ‘work in progress’ though and as always with Hibs, patience will be required from the support. After the torrid times of last year I think, if quizzed on aspirations and expectations for Hibs under John Hughes tutelage after six or seven months, we couldn’t have hoped for much more.

Keep the Faith.

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