I wrote a blog on Saturday evening when I was still really angry at Hibernian and, reading back over it, I’m glad I didn’t publish it. It was just a full on rant that would have done no good at all.
Still I’m left wondering what the heck has happened to Hibs in the past few weeks? We were The Unbeatables, seeing off competition left, right and centre whether they be from the Championship or the Premiership. Aberdeen came to visit us in the League Cup, they were in great form mixing it up at the top of the Premiership but we sent them packing 2-0 and out of the cup. This was the Hibs we wanted. Not afraid, tough, in tune with each other and just looking downright fabulous.
It continued, Dundee United BIFF, St Johnstone BASH. Then the Scottish Cup. Hearts at Tynecastle. Two-nil down. Ten minutes to go. All over surely? Nope. Thanks to Jason Cummings and Paul Hanlon we were still in it and taking Hearts back to Easter Road where we would beat them 1-0 BAM. The season was lining up perfectly. How could it all go wrong?
Sunday 21st February. One-thirty kick off at Easter Road and a nice 3-0 win over Alloa (yes Alloa). Perfect. Home for Sunday roast. Three days later, under the floodlights, after the final whistle sitting in disbelief. What had just gone on? Greenock Morton had just clobbered us 3-0 in our own home.
The mixed bag opened up. Inverness punted out the Scottish Cup over two legs, defeat by Ross County in the League Cup Final, league losses. Nothing going right. Then the straw that finally broke this camel’s back, Alloa beating us 1-0 (added to Falkirks win).
I’ll admit to being a positive fan, trying to see the good in everything but I’m still left shaking my head. What the hell has happened? Four points out of the last twenty-one available. FOUR! That’s almost unthinkable considering the unbeaten run we went on.
Everyone is searching for answers. No one is finding any. This would be a case that would break Mulder and Scully. Though, when you look back on it, yes we were winning games but not by great margins. In the form we were in we should have been tucking away teams in the championship with ease. Would it have been wrong to ask for us to be putting Alloa away five or six nil? I don’t think so. The fact is, as good as we have played in all these matches, we were not scoring enough goals. Not for the want of trying, it just wasn’t happening.
Our lone striker really is Jason Cummings. Dress it up any other way you want but he is. We’ve got Stokes in there, trying to impress Ronny (but isn’t). El Alagui who has struggled to return to fitness after a tough injury and who was missing from the squad on Saturday after limping off in the first half against Livingston. This is a pity because I feel he could shine for us. We’ve got Martin Boyle who struggles to get a start, the same with Dagnall and Keatings. Why?
Why doesn’t Niklas Gunnarsson get a start? He came on at Tynecastle when we were two nil down and, for me, he woke the team up again. He changed it. Not afraid to power forward, he’s tall, he has speed and strength and he knows what he needs to do. Yet week after week he sits on the bench barely managing to get on the pitch and when he does the clock is at nintey minutes.
I’m not second-guessing the team selection, I’m not in the dressing room before a match but I do, as a supporter, wonder. I’m not calling for the head of Alan Stubbs because he doesn’t deserve that. He is still the best thing to happen in the coaching side of the club for a long time and he has changed a losing, negative mentality that hung around at the club for a long time, into a winning, positive mentality. We needed that at Easter Road and at East Mains. Do I think we’ve lost it again? No. I think most people in the camp are baffled at the moment but they’re still positive.
It has been suggested that the team have been on such fine form for so long they have simply ran out of steam. They’ve played a lot of football, no one can deny that. Not so long ago we were in three competitions and playing lots of matches. Yet we had a fortnight’s break recently and that didn’t revive us.
All I can do as a supporter is keep my trust in the team and the coaches and everyone else involved. We’re not out of the chance of promotion, we’re just looking like we’re going to have to do it the hard way. I just hope this is a seriously small dip in form and we’ll rise again to finish the job. What this season has taught me is that anything is possible and to keep backing the team that gives me pride and pain in almost equal measures.
The season ticket is renewed and I have to admit, I’d follow Hibs if they dropped down leagues as well. They are my team, I follow them. I just want them to be the best though. To give the supporters reason to cheer. They’ve been doing it all season, let’s not end it now.
As for supporters, there’s a Catch 22 situation going on. The club want people to come back in their numbers and people would if there was reason to. Hibernian do well, supporters will return but in the club’s mind, Hibernian will do well if the supporters return. There’s two sides and I can’t argue with either. The club wants people to return but people want more. For the game against Falirk on Tuesday supporters purchasing tickets will pay £22 to watch the team that got beat by a relegated Alloa on Saturday against the team above them in the league. It’s at this time of a season, bad or good, any club should drop its prices and get the fans in but that’s another blog altogether.