If there’s one thing that any Hibs fan knows with absolute certainty it’s that if there is a hard way to do something Hibs will pick to do it that way.
The derby cup mauling of the Jambos was only just over a week ago but it seems much longer than that as Hibs seem to have lost their way a bit in the league. Prior to the cup derby game there was the soul destroying point at Raith which led to Neil Lennon’s heavy criticism of his team.
However, the demolition derby looked like it had given Hibs new lease of life, they outclassed and outplayed Hearts to win 3-1 and set the atmosphere on fire. Hibs fans left Easter Road satisfied and jubilant, exuberant and with no malice. Job done, Hearts out for the second year in a row in the fifth round dispatched by us after a draw at Tynecastle and a replay at Easter Road.
Then would come Saturday. Back to league duty. Lurking feelings that a league and cup double could be a possibilty but the priority should be the league. Only it didn’t seem like it.
Dunfermline came to Easter Road to face what should have been a tough game for them. Hibs should have been on a high. Hibs were on a cup derby hangover. Managing to get two-nil up the game finished 2-2. OKay, I thought. Let them have that. They put so much into the derby they probably were feeling a little tired. Neil Lennon said after the match that they were. That’s fine. Dundee United hadn’t fared well earlier in the day do no real damage done.
Then came Wednesday. Hibs, top of the league. St Mirren bottom of the league and starting to drift. Hibs and some nine-hundred and odd fans made the journey west to Paisley to face St Mirren at the Paisley 2021 Stadium. I never actually knew it was called that until today. Since they moved from Love Street I’ve just said they played at St Mirren Stadium.
That, however, is by the by. Hibs, in central defender injury hell, made the emergency loan signing deal that nearly broke the Internet, brought in Efe Ambrose on loan from Celtic and signed Brian McLean on short-term deal until the end of the season.
As far as Twitter meltdowns go, I’ve seen many. Not just about football but in politics, American politics, news, but Monday night on Twitter was insane for those who follow Scottish football.
The first part of the meltdown seemed to be concerning Raith Rovers. Their three keepers were all injured in different ways. Raith were already had the maximum amount of loan signings but had found a way to sign a permanant contract with an on loan player from Aberdeen so that they could bring in Celtic keeper Logan Bailly to help them through the injury spell. Only Bailly let them down late on Monday evening. Raith then went on to ask for a postponement of the match which was denied by the SPFL. There were other ways for Raith to have a secured a keeper but those options did not seem to be taken by Raith or they were unable to use those options. They ended up deciding to put Ryan Stevenson in goals who was up for it.
The secon part of the meltdown around this involved Hibs being able to sign Efe Ambrose but Raith not being able to sign an emergency goalkeeper. St Mirren keeper and coach, Jamie Langfield, was particularly vocal about this on Twitter, as were several other people. Hibs fans responded by trying to point out the efforts Raith had made and why Hibs had bought in Efe Ambrose. Some people don’t or don’t want to understand and that’s how they’ll always be. Apparently Hibs were abusing a rule “again” that any team not in the SPL can use. You just have to make sure you don’t have too many loan signings already, that is all.
Another thing worth pointing out is that although the rule has the word “emergency” in it, it doesn’t need to be so. Even if we didn’t have our CD injury problems, Neil could have brought in Ambrose just to bolster the position.
At the end of it all, Ryan Stevenson gave a good account of himself on Tuesday evening. According to those who witnessed the game at Somerset Park, Ryan made some excellent saves. Raith lost 1-0 (goal scored for Ayr by ex-Hibs player Farid el Alagui) on that evening. Maybe a goalie who didn’t know the team might have let in more?
However, Twitter meltdown aside, Hibs went into Wednesday night game with Efe Ambrose in the starting XI and Brian McLean on the bench. Top side against bottom side. Maybe we expected we’d just win it.
When my phone went bzzz with a score update I fully expected it to be Hibs, but no. St Mirren had gone one up with January signing Stelios Demetriou. OK, I thought, Hibs will pull this back. I went onto Twitter to see the thoughts of those at the game and they were not good. Phone went bzzz at half time and I thought, well, Lennon would haul them over the coals at half time. Well, if he did, it didn’t work. Mere seconds after my phone went bzzz for the restart it went bzzz for St Mirren’s second goal, also scored by Demetriou. Twitter and texts told me all I needed to know, Hibs were abysmal. No way back for Hibs. Zero points for the league leaders and three for the club at the bottom of the league. Good on you St Mirren, from all accounts you wanted it more and played the current Scottish Cup Champions and league leaders off the park. You deserve the three points.
So, what next Hibs? Lennon wasn’t as irate as anyone thought he would be. He was very mild considering two weeks ago a draw and a point had seen him lose it. First loss in three months and he’s fairly quiet about it. What is there to say though? Ranting at the team hasn’t worked. So is it right to take the quieter approach and just say that he hopes the team learn from it?
Who knows? Hibs are seven points clear at the top of the Championship but we go to Tannadice on Friday. If we lose there it’s four points difference and they have a game in hand. We never do things easily but Hibs, I can’t do another season in this league. It’s been fine for rebuilding – I would rather have done that in this league than the SPL – we’ve won that elusive Scottish Cup and no one will ever take away the magic and the memories of the 21st of May 2016 (and the day after!). As much as we’d love to win the Cup again we HAVE to go up this season. We have to do it automatically. We’re tired of this league.
It’s OK to go out on Saturday and get beat by Ayr, although not destroyed by them! It will be disappointing for sure but we’ll still be Scottish Cup Holders until someone else lifts the trophy in May, and we’ll still have won it. But we have to go up this season. It’s not even questionable.
If the players minds are on the cup and not on the league them please, Neil Lennon, Garry Parker, Alan Coombe and everyone else – get their minds sorted. If we beat Ayr on Saturday then fine but the concentration is on the league. A few weeks ago Neil Lennon said the cup will take care of itself. It will, but the league will not. We have to win it.
We’ll be behind you ever more Hibs. GGTTH