First of all, before I continue with this blog, I am a huge Hibernian supporter. Big, huge. I stick with them through thick and thin and that’s why I’ll be with them this season, next season, the season after and beyond. If they don’t go up this season I will be mightily disappointed and angry but I’ll support them even more. We could drop leagues and I will support them forever more. I love the club and they have got me through some very hard times. As supporters we can do that and we also have the right to express our opinions on what is going on with the club good or bad and we are no more a supporter or less of a supporter for doing that. We pay our money and we have our expectations and when the club doesn’t live up to our expectations we have a right to an opinion on that. As a group of supporters we will agree with each other on the path the club is taking and we will disagree and that is fine but no one’s opinion is pointless.
On Saturday 4,392 people turned up at Easter Road to watch Hibernian take on St Mirren for a place in the IRN BRU Challenger Cup Quarter Finals. Not an easy game, that’s for sure. I’ve written before about how any team that comes to Easter Road will turn it on to beat us and that’s some of what happened on Saturday.
Lennon left Jason on the bench, Lewis Stevenson was there with him along with Brian Graham and Neil Eardley. The chosen eleven left me scratching my head well before the game started. Pleased to see Alex Harris getting a start though.
Before I carry on, it’s always been my belief that in football the aim of the game is to score goals and win games. To win any trophy that’s available whether it be the Holy Grail of cups or something considered a “diddy” cup. The aim of the game is to win. So when it’s suggested to me that cups games can be lost in order to go after the main mission then I pretty much have a problem. In football you go into EVERY game to win it or you might as well not bother.
Moments into the game on Saturday it was clear this was going to be a terrible game. Hibs had little life in them. Absolutely nothing going on. Passing was awful for the most part. There seems to have been some re-introduction of the Hoof Ball that Stubbs had stamped out of us. There seems to be a collective memory loss of why the game is called FOOTball. It’s played with the foot and the ball is kicked. It seemed, on Saturday, that the aim of the game was to keep the ball in the air. Well, if that was the aim of game it would be called Headball.
The trouble with high balls is that the result is fifty/fifty. It’s not a precision pass and at the moment Hibs don’t have the ability to be in favour of collecting the ball, controlling it and make it work. Yes, they might win it but just head it off for another fifty/fifty and hey ho boring football.
Lennon changed the shape of the team yet it was only when we went back to the diamond we scored. Alex Harris popped it in to put us ahead. Alex Harris who has changed as a player. He’s full of confidence and if he’d had a team around him that wanted to win we might even have done it. Man of the Match was Alex Harris and I agree with that, with Fraser Fyvie not far behind him.
Keatings, McGregor, Forster all had their moments, McGeouch has lost something, not sure what it is. Just not as effective as he used to be. Confidence loss? Who knows. Shinnie was never in it. Hanlon was just there. Boyle got a start and he put the effort in. Grey…really good in the first half but dropped off. Second half he was just there and Marciano, like his opposite, Langfield, was mostly a spectator. I will say, there is always a great feeling watching David Grey bombing up the wing. He is a player who more than deserves his place in the team. He’s a worthy Captain and that is not just based on the Scottish Cup win. That’s based on watching Hibs week in and week out. He is a positive for the team.
I would question Lennon’s choice of not putting Lewis Stevenson in the team. Was this because of his ban? (He can’t say he was resting him as he’s aleady had a rest). Was it because Lennon thinks he shouldn’t expect to start every week? We’ll never know really because Lennon will never tell us. Stevenson is a work horse. To omit him from the team for any reason other than injury is ridiculous. This is the boy known as Mr Hibs. He gives 100% all the time. He has his off moments, that’s not unusual in this team, but he’s committed and to see him languishing on the bench on Saturday seemed wrong. Very, very wrong.
We don’t appear to be doing much on the pitch at the moment other than lumping the ball around. We’re not creating chances and we’re pretty poor defensively.
While Hibs didn’t do themselves any favours in the game the officials were diabolical. It’s about time the SFA looked at their officials and realised that they are just not up to scratch. With few exceptions the officials that officiate games in league and cups are far beyond par. The offside rule appears to evade them when it is actually offside and then appears out the blue when it’s not needed. So called “assistant referees” are no such thing. It is beyond me how Willie Collum gets plaudits and is employed to referee outside the SPFL. He shouldn’t be in charge of managing a line to a KFC counter never mind a football match. The best shout from the crowd I heard today was “linesman, do you want me to Google the offside rule for you?”
So Saturday was not a great day for us Hibees, that is true. From reading around a few pages I see that Lennon is starting to be questioned as manager. I would agree that some of his decisions regarding the team of late have been disagreeable and watching the team on Saturday I feel like I am not watching Hibs at the moment. Not the Hibs I have seen over the past couple of seasons, the Hibs filled with passion and confidence. We had a really good start to the season but it’s tailed away. Is it just a blip? It may well be but it’s our blips that have done us in before.
Speaking to Hibs TV on Saturday, Neil Lennon said;
“I don’t know what’s going through the players’ minds at the minute, we’re just making games easier for the opposition.”
I don’t like those words. He should know what’s in their minds, he spends a huge part of the week with them. He’s in the changing room with them before a game. He should know what frame of mind his players are in. If there’s something wrong, he should know about it. He’s their manager so it’s his job to know and if he doesn’t, why? Is there no communication going on? If he doesn’t know what going through their minds then he’d pretty much find out and fast.
However, he is our manager and therefore we support him for the time being and hopefully he can manage to lift us out this slump we’re in. This season was never going to be easy and we’ve a lot of hard work ahead of us.