Tag Archives: Stubbs

Cup romance must wait, Hibs need to woo the League

‘Here we go, two in a row’.  It’s got a nice ring about it.  The cup romance is still with us.  We’re still in love with the whole experience.  Having failed to win it in 114-years we now face the fairytale of winning it for the second time.  Oh what a time to be alive.

I don’t like bringing this up but I’m sure every Hibby remembers Sunday the 25th May 2014.  We remember all right.  After an absolute shambles Hibs were relegated from the SPL to the Scottish Championship.  I remember the feeling of being absolutely lost.  I remember the tears running down my cheeks, the scarves flying from above me onto the pitch.  The boos.  I saw other people crying, children and adults.  Old timers too. Continue reading

Put it in the NET! And Bring Back Hendo…

Finally escaped to write this.

So, Saturday afternoon brought us Falkirk at Easter Road.  Despite Falkirk forgetting how to play football it was never going to to be a match-up to take lightly.

Falkirk are further down the league that they would want to be at this point in the season but it’s easy to see why.  For one I think they’ve had secret coaching sessions with Terry B****** on how to play Hoofball along with a few attempts at Head Tennis.  Houston seems to have lost the plot with this seasons Falkirk squad.  His problem though.

Ours is that we can’t get the ball in the back of the net.  Not consistently.  Saturday was very much testament to that.  With 18 corners and numerous other chanced it’s beyond me why were didn’t have a few on the scoreboard before half time.

Part of it is that Falkirk played defensive right from the kick off.  They weren’t playing to win, they were playing to not lose it, there is a difference.  They just tightened up even more after Taiwo was sent off for his insane two footed tackle on John McGinn leaving them with ten men from 23 minutes onwards.

When Hibs play football we play football.  We’re classy and we can tear through teams when we really want to and we did in parts on Saturday afternoon.  Some respect must be given to the Bairns ‘keeper Danny Rogers.  He pulled off a few decent saves that did deny us goals.

Yet something is just not right.

Grant Holt is fast becoming one of my favourite players.  His effort is amazing.  He put up with a lot today, a few fouls on him that the referee and lino’s seemed to have missed as if they were watching the other channel.

The game was feisty which wasn’t a problem at all, Hibs and Falkirk were close rivals all last season and it shouldn’t be a shock that it would remain the same this season.  Stubbs may be gone but Houston won’t have forgotten the jibes last season.  Beating Hibs on Saturday would have made his shiny bald head beam with happiness.

However, to win you need goals and Hibs ‘keeper Ross Laidlaw was a mere spectator for the majority of the game.  While Hibs didn’t score any more goals than Falkirk we did create many more chances and Danny Rogers goalmouth was a busy one.  Aside from Falkirk’s goal (and no, Marciano wouldn’t have saved it either) the groundskeepers would be happy enough that both ends only dealt with forty-five minutes of action.

We played well on Saturday, I would think that there would be very few people who would disagree with that.  The team have gelled.  There were a few loose passes but they looked like they were small communication issues rather than anything major going on.  We tried to play our football game but as soon as Falkirk got on the ball they just hoofed it about until we took it off them again.  Frustrating.

Frustration might be the word of the game.  Almost 100% effort for the entire match from the whole team, including the subs, and we just end up with a point.  It’s the story of Hibs and not just limited to this season.

How many times must we sit and watch a player who could take a shot then pass it out wide? Set play nonsense.  TAKE THE BLOODY SHOT! If you keep battering it in then you batter the defence, yet we seem to be running up, creating mayhem then dampening it down by passing out (almost literally!) and letting the opposition regroup.  Or, in Falkirks case, just group!

MOTM Darren McGregor has really proved himself in recent weeks.  On Saturday he was all over Falkirks apparent lone striker.  They started with a 4-4-2 with Baird and Miller upfront but they were generally called back to muck in with defensive duties.

El Capitano was a little off his game on Saturday.  Nothing major and he worked hard but there was something amiss from Sir David’s game.  Temporary I am sure.

I’m still not sure why JC is not getting a start.  Our top scorer and no one is showing any signs of wanting topple him from that.  Nineteen minutes at the end of a game isn’t enough for him.  He’s not being allowed to build up a strike force with anyone.  Jason needs fed.  He won’t pick up a ball at the halfway line and run with it, he needs service.  Probably more service than other strikers but he does need it.  Jason will score if Jason is given the right build up.

Can’t fault the team as a whole.  I’ve seen Lewis Stevenson questioned in the aftermath of the match yet Falkirk generally forgot about him for most of the match and he loomed around unmarked, especially in the second half.  Fonts didn’t have the game I would have thought he had but I would imagine he knows that.

I still think we’re missing Liam Henderson.  Probably my favourite on loan player of recent years.  He played his heart out for Hibs.  No one could deny his spirit and his love for a club he was only sent to in order to gain experience.  He became a hero with Hibs and if he never does anything else in his career then he was part of the Time For Heroes team.  He’ll never be forgotten for that.  And guess what? He wants to come back.  Get working on it Hibs.  If there’s one thing we know about Hendo it’s that he knows how to deliver.

GGTTH 💚

Frustrating afternoon as Hibs drop two points

One word can describe Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home with Queen of the South and that word is – frustrating.  I’m sure there are some other words that can describe some of the performance but frustrating seems to cover everything.

On a very chilly afternoon at Easter Road, 10,069 supporters turned up to watch Hibs take on Queen of the South with a win putting us level on points in the Championship.

Hibs line-up looked like this:

Perntreou, Gray, Hanlon, Fontaine, Harris, Craig (Cpt), Stevenson, Handling, S. Allan, Kennedy, Cummings.  Substitutes: Combe, Booth, L. Allan, Crane, J. Sinclair, Heffernan, Stanton.

Hibs have a very depleted squad at the moment and our list of injuries grew with the news that at the end of the week that Dylan McGeouch and Scott Robertson would both be out.  They join El Alagui, Forster and Oxley on the injury list and with Malonga away on international duty, Stubbs didn’t have a lot to work with in terms of choice.  This led to Jason Cummings being the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 line-up.

It’s a formation that didn’t entirely work.  Hibs certainly dominated throughout the match and while our defence was solid leaving Kleton Perntreou with very little to do, the forward section were just not up to it.  QoS keeper Zander Clark gave Hibs several chances to score when he parried shots rather than collecting them but Hibs had no one there to knock the ball into the back of the net and you don’t win games by holding back.  Annoying if it happens once but it happened many times during the match and it must be knocked on the head – take the chances.

Hibs did get a few shots in the general direction of the goal but some nice play to set up the shots was not rewarded as shots flew wide.  Clark had a few saves to make but we should have scored, and more than once.

Queen of the South did turn up to play a defensive game and didn’t really look like a team that wanted three points from the game, fortunately because if they had won that would have stretched the gap between them and us.  At the moment we have Raith Rovers nipping at our heels, only a point behind us after a 2-1 win at Stark’s Park.

The second half plodded on much like the first and frustration grew.  Just on the hour Stubbs replaced Harris and Handling with Heffernan and Sinclair to give a bit of fresh energy to the team and at 69 minutes he replaced Cummings with Stanton.  The team took on a slightly more attacking shape but it still wasn’t to be.  Heffernan failing to knock in a pass from Gray seemed to sum up the whole afternoon.

It was a disappointed and frustrated crowd that left Easter Road just before five PM.  After weeks of improvement Saturday’s match was certainly a step backwards.

Stubbs has work to do with the team before heading off to Dumbarton next Saturday.  However, our squad was depleted with six players out and choice difficult.  Those six players are a big miss to Hibs and that was clear during the 90 minutes on Saturday.  Hibs still gained a point from the match but it seems more like we lost two.

Not all bad.  Liam Fontaine is certainly growing on me.  He’s becoming a solid part of the defensive line-up.  Scott Allan, again showing some class in the midfield.  I wouldn’t say it was his best game but he was still one of the best players on the park.  Kleton Perntreou didn’t have much to do but good to see him keep a clean sheet on his starting debut and he’ll have gained confidence from the match.  Lewis Stevenson continues to play well each week and Saturday was no different.

Very disappointing not to take all three points from the match, it was ours to win but for some poor play.  Recent weeks have seen a decent side run out for Hibs and let’s just hope Saturday’s match was a blip rather than anything else.  Hopefully Malonga will be back in the squad for next Saturday’s (22nd) trip to Dumbarton.  Let’s hope our injured players are well on the mend and back training soon.

Frustration and disappointment all round, even Alan Stubbs couldn’t hide his disappointment in his post match interview with Hibs TV.

Annoying game but hopefully a kick up the rear-end that will see an improvement in the games to come.

 

Pride restored at Easter Road

Hibs went out the league cup on Wednesday night and as fans we couldn’t be more proud of them.

Now, that might seem like a slightly strange statement to make but it’s entirely true.  We’re not proud to be out of the cup, of course, we’re disappointed by that, but the pride comes from a team that has transformed over the last few weeks and finally seem to have broken what ever hex was over us at Easter Road.

A solid performance at Easter Road in the derby with Hearts saw Hibs take all the plaudits, just not the win but who could predict a 40 yard screamer from Ozturk right at the end of the game? No one.  However, the result aside, Hibs played the game of their life on Sunday and each player on that pitch should be proud of themselves.

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Under the floodlights

A few short days later and another home game, this time against SPL side Dundee United in the League Cup quarter final.  Football under the floodlights.  Fantastic.

The game would see Hibs come back from behind three times.

During the first half there were a few errors and perhaps they could have been attributed to nerves and while still good, we lacked some of the dazzle from Sunday.  We went into half time 1-2, our goal scorer being Do, Do, Do, Dominique Malonga.  The Conga for Malonga being loudly sung by the migrating singing section who have taken the drum down to the lower section of 43 and to good effect.

Stubbs said after the match that he had given the lads a rollicking at half time and whatever he said worked.  Hibs came out in the second half positive and tough.  They took the game to Dundee United, dominating all over the park.  At 57 minutes Jason Cummings levelled the score to 2-2 but a few moments later Dundee United went ahead again and it was 2-3.

Hibs weren’t having it though and kept pushing forward with some exciting play which would eventually see Matt Kennedy score his first goal for us and what a time to do it.

The crowd, by this point, were electrified.  The three Hibernian stands singing together and absolutely behind a stunning Hibs team.  Long may that last, hearing the support singing together is an amazing sound.  It also boosts the team.

Neither team could add to their goal tally and after 90 minutes it ended 3-3 and we were into extra time.

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Penalties

Hibs didn’t let the level drop in extra time and continued to play a solid game.  However, neither team could break the deadlock and 30 minutes later penalties happened.

Personally, I don’t like penalties as a way of ending a game but there isn’t a better alternative at this time so this is what we do in different competitions.  Unfortunately Hibs lost out in penalties and Dundee United went through to the semi-finals winning 7-6 on pens.

Hibs players dropped to the deck, gutted.  Heads were in hands.  Disappointment from the team was evident but the fans did an amazing thing.  Rather than heading for the exits at speed, the Hibernian fans stayed exactly where they were and showed the team exactly what they thought of them and their performance.  Booing? No, not heard all evening.  On Wednesday night we cheered that Hibs team off the park.  Why? Because they deserved it.  Hibs didn’t lose that tie, it was taken from them in penalties.  Throughout the entire match they stood up against Dundee United and they didn’t back down and they gave a performance that they should be very, very proud of.

The response of the support after the derby and after Wednesday league cup clash is proof of how much progress that our team has made over recent weeks.  From two dreary home ties to Raith Rovers and then Dumbarton to the demolition of Livingston away, then returning home to a stunning performance against Hearts and then again against Dundee United, the hard work of all the players and Alan Stubbs and his team is really beginning to show.  Not only show, but shine.  And it should shine, because it’s brilliant.

There is credit to be given all round.  To Alan Stubbs and his team for persevering and bringing this squad together and bringing out their best with more to come.  To the squad for working hard, for not giving up, for not letting their heads drop, for keeping going when things might seem against them.  To the support for getting right behind the team and showing them that we do know the improvement is there, the change is happening and we’re right behind it.  It was also fantastic to see the Hibs support on Twitter get right behind players who were disappointed at missed penalties.  Matty Kennedy scored the goal that took us into extra time, without that we would have gone out in the 90 minutes.  I, and most other Hibees, have no issue with his penalty, we’re just chuffed that he got his first goal for the team.  May there be many more to come.

There might have only been a crowd of 8,689 at Easter Road on Wednesday night but it sounded and seemed like a full house.  That’s the difference the support can make.

Pride restored at Easter Road? Without a doubt.

The boss speaks.

Derby defeat but Hibs should feel no shame

Derby day in Edinburgh.  Traditionally not our favourite day.  Some dread it, some live for it.  All of us go into it with that same hope.  We will win.  I will say that about us, regardless of the actual records in Win, Losses and Draws, we still go in believing we can win.  Now, I say “we” as in the fans because I think around the dressing room there is still a nervousness that needs quashed.  Of course, a derby win would help but that’s not forthcoming at the moment so on we wait.

Hibernian starting eleven were: Oxley, Gray, Stevenson, Craig, Forster, Nelson, Harris, Robertson, El Alagui, Handling, Stanton.

Substitutes: Perntreou, Heffernan, Tudur Jones, Booth, Cummings, Allan, Kennedy

Danny Handling back in after suspension, Heff back on the bench, Nelson getting a start in place of injured Paul Hanlon.

First off I should point out that I watched this game on TV today and not live.  I did listen to bits on the radio but was at work so I watched the game when I got home.  Knowing the result I actually thought this might beneficial to me and I assumed that I would skip forward through most of the second half at least.  Well, that didn’t happen.  The only bits I skipped through were the pundits at the start, during half time and right at the end.

Hibs were never going to run out at Tynecastle full of confidence and nerve-free and hopefully no one would expect them to.  Our recent derby history isn’t good.  The hope today was that this would change and as the first half settled in it looked like Hibs certainly weren’t going to be bossed by Hearts and they weren’t.  That’s one positive at least.  Hibs took it to Hearts…and for a while Hearts couldn’t handle it.

Goal wise neither team had many chances but it would be Hibs that got the ultimate chance to take the lead.  Willie Collum pointed to the spot on 31 minutes after Hearts débutante goalie, Jack Hamilton, upended Danny Handling, and up stepped club captain, Liam Craig.  Anyone would have said Liam Craig would have slotted home the penalty for that is his norm.  A goal for Hibs here would lift them but unfortunately Craig’s effort went wide and what should have been a dead cert lead for Hibs became an enormous let off for Hearts.

Liam Craig’s head went into his hands but the heads of the team didn’t go down.  Not as they would have in seasons gone by.   Hearts looked slightly brighter and seven minutes later they had a chance from Sam Nicholson but Mark Oxley dealt with it and kept Hibs safe.

The first half played out and finished 0-0.  Both teams sharing possession fairly equally. From a Hibernian point of view, very disappointing not to have gone in 0-1.  What do you do though? The penalty was missed.  Hibs would have to put that out their minds and come out into the second half fighting if we wanted to take anything from the match.

The second half was scrappy with both teams struggling to gain anything.  Possession was again, almost fairly split.  Hearts keeper Hamilton dealt with a timid shot from Forster and then Ozturk had a free kick for Hearts but couldn’t get it past the Hibernian wall.

However, Hearts gained the lead on 76 with a goal from Sam Nicholson.  It blazed past Oxley 1-0 Hearts.  Still, no heads down but frustration crept in and moments later Scott Robertson found himself walking to the tunnel on a second bookable offence after he brought down Prince Buaben in the box.  Fairly soft penalty but it was given and Buaben slotted it past Oxley.  2-0.

Not a great time to be a Hibs fan.  Stubbs subbed Stanton at 79 brining on Kennedy and then replaced Handling with Allan at 85.  Too little to late though.  I’m with many other fans in thinking that subs should have been made earlier.  Stanton hadn’t been playing well for most of the match.  It was obvious he should have come off earlier but Stubbs is the manager and he made the decisions as he saw fit.

Hearts were themselves reduced to 10 when Osman Sow elbowed Michael Nelson in the face and Collum brought out the red.

However, the match wasn’t over at 2-0 and Hibs gave some consolation by getting one back through Farid El Alagui in stoppage.  A nifty move which included flicking the ball over the top of Hearts captain, Danny Wilson, before slotting it past Hamilton.  Perhaps too little to late but showing that despite the scoreline and despite the fact that the game was in its dying moments, Hibs weren’t giving up.  That is a massive change for Hibs.

The verdict on this from myself is…neither team were particularly dominant.  Possession was shared and play was scrappy from both sides.  Hibs didn’t bow down to Hearts and it’s a bitter disappointment that Liam Craig missed the chance to put  us ahead.  However, I don’t imagine for a minute he feels anything other despair and disappointment and he will be genuinely gutted.  That miss will have played on his mind the whole game, especially as it would have put us in the lead and who knows where the game would have went.  That’s speculation though.

Stanton was disappointing today and I feel Stubbs should have brought him off much earlier than he did.  It was good to see Hibs toughen it up a bit today, let’s face it, you have to play a tough game against Hearts and Jamie Walker might wonder what he did to Liam Craig and Lewis Stevenson in the final moments as he was put down on the ground and then faced up to Lewis Stevenson which resulted in a light head butt from Walker to Stevenson.  The technical term, I believe, is handbags and it truly was.  With referee and linesman in close attendance, Walker might have found himself on the end of a yellow card but it probably wasn’t worth it in the end.  Hibs were frustrated to be on the end of yet another derby defeat and Hearts nerves were jangling after losing Sow and a Hibs goal.  Yes, late in the game but still, a lead to be defended.

Stevenson though, a player I have backed for season after season.  He works hard, usually quietly and gets frustrated when his hard work falls to nothing.  I’m pleased to see him still in the team, hopefully a regular in the starting eleven and I certainly think he’ll work hard for Alan Stubbs.

Two games into the season, one win, one loss.  Not a brilliant game today, of which Hearts could say the same but they won and we didn’t and that hurts.  Derbies will always be scrappy though, goals will always come when you don’t expect it and that dead cert goal will usually not happen.

Hibs are under a lot of pressure at the moment.  There’s a negativity to be shaken off from last season and seasons before.  It was starting to shift but the derby defeat has brought some of it back.  Why? I’m not sure.  If you look under the scrappy game then Hibs were, again, playing as a team.  The passing wasn’t slick, the style of play wasn’t slick.  It never will be playing our arch rivals though.  Games against Hearts are always going to be gritty.  As they should be.

I’m pleased to get the first derby out done and dusted so early in the season.  Feeling in the dressing room when you’re up against your city rivals is different from when facing someone else and this would have given Stubbs the chance to see the difference in Hibs when facing Hearts as to when they face other teams.  Hearts have the upper hand on us in derbies and therefore the confidence going into them.  Let’s hope Stubbsy can change that.

On another note, I read an article pre-derby that confirms a lot of what I suspect many Hibees already knew.  The shambles that Alan Stubbs was taking over.  Rather than try to put it in my own words I’ll post a some quotes and a link to the article at the end.

From the article:

Stubbs, though, is willing to be seriously unequivocal in one assessment – where the Leith club are compared to his arrival seven weeks ago. He offers up a judgment that can only be considered a denunciation of the six-month Terry Butcher reign, and perhaps also of the earlier Pat Fenlon era.

“From day one to today, it’s a million per cent better. From when I came in to where we are now is an unbelievable change, it really is. People don’t realise what we’ve had to change over the last eight weeks, in such a short space of time. I’m not sitting here blowing smoke up my own backside but the club – Leeann [Dempster, chief executive], George [Craig] general manager, myself, the players, the staff in here – have done an incredible amount to try and get us to where we are.

“When I came in we had 14 players, we had five young players who had been offered a contract and were then suddenly told they didn’t have that contract.

“We had no physio, no fitness coach, no sports science involved. I had no assistant, no first-team coach, there was a scout/goalkeeping coach [Steve Marsella] – I don’t know how that works but that was what was in place. So that was just some of the things we had to change.”

Most fans suspected that scouting wasn’t happening correctly.  Stubbs had this to say:

…”We can’t be scouting players on the back of a Wikipeida page and one individual’s opinion. We need to have background checks, we need to know the player’s medical history.

“We need to see them at least six to eight times and there was none of that in place, none of it whatsoever. At times it was as if it was done off the cuff.”…

Many fans still believe Petrie is the one in control.  Stubbs was asked and this was the response:

Asked if he spoke to Petrie regularly, a defensive Stubbs’ initially questioned the “relevance” of such an enquiry. When it was explained the question was put because in his pre-Dempster days as chief executive Petrie was very much hands-on and in daily contact with his managers, Stubbs relaxed and gave an answer that ought to assuage some fans’ fears.

“I say hello to him and we have passed each other in the corridor and stuff like that,” he said.

“I speak to Leeann now, she is my point of contact. I speak to her whenever we are looking at the day-to-day running of the club. If it’s a football matter I’ll speak with Leeann and George. But, yes, I see Rod, but the decisions I make will be with Leeann and George.”

In re-engaging with the fans:

“We’ve tried to engage with the fans massively compared to what has happened over the last few seasons. We know there’s been a breakdown in communications between the club, the community, the players and the supporters, and that needs to be resurrected and built again.

“We’re not soft. Leeann and George are doing a great job in trying to put the wrongs right but unfortunately it’s not going to happen in a week. It may take a couple of months, but the season is over nine months, not one week, and that’s what we’ll be gauging ourselves on.”

Prior to that he also says that the fans are going to be a big part of this season and therefore he is right, the club is right in having to re-engage with the support.  It is happening though.  There is more contact with supporters.  Supporters are finding that the club is more supportive of them in using facilities.  You can read the full article here.

The only thing I would say is that the club have to give more back.  I’m a season ticket holder.  Give me a free ticket for a friend every fourth home game or something like that.  I’ll get a friend along.  If the seat is going to be empty anyway, what’s wrong with it being given to someone for free, who might come back as a paying supporter the next time, potentially a season ticket holder in seasons to come.

Change for the good will only come if we back it.  If we support Stubbs and his new crew.  The change can’t happen in a game or in two games, it takes time.  The progress made in a short time is telling of what Stubbs, Dempster and others are putting into making it happen.

As noted in previous blogs, we still need a signing or two.  Up front and in the back.  There is still time.

For me, there has been more positivity than negativity of late.

Meanwhile, focus is now on Saturday 23rd August.  Bring on The Bairns!

GGTTH