THE Hibs players who trudged off the Easter Road turf on Saturday can thank their lucky stars that the transfer window is closed because, judging by the mood of manager Terry Butcher, there could have been more wheeling and dealing in the offing if the opportunity to do so was there.
“We don’t need the manager to tell us it isn’t good enough,” said captain Liam Craig, who branded the team’s performance “a disgrace” while finding time to praise Sam Stanton and Duncan Watmore for their individual displays.
“It’s tougher on the younger ones, because if there are any positives then it’s the performances of Sammy and Duncan, who has only just come in. The two of them were excellent.
“Duncan [on loan from Sunderland] ran at the defenders and Sammy scored his first goal. But, from our point of view, the senior players have to look at ourselves.”
From the moment he replaced Pat Fenlon, Butcher had been made well aware of the need to address the club’s sorry Scottish Cup record.
Despite back-to-back finals in the past two years, the club have not won the tournament since 1902. Defeat on Saturday to Raith Rovers means that Hibs players now have just a top-six finish and their own future at the club left to fight for.
“We’ve got to stick together,” said Craig. “The transfer window’s shut and it’s this group of players that will finish the season. It’s up to us to get together and end the season strongly, to give us something to build on. We need leaders and people to stand up, but that has been the case all season and, in any team I’ve played for, we’ve had it. It is there.”
Going behind three times, those leadership qualities were far from evident as Hibs struggled to grab control of the game and snuff out Raith’s will to win. “If you don’t stop crosses into the box or their players from playing in the middle of the park or in the wider areas then you have a problem,” said Craig. “We didn’t keep the ball or stamp our authority on the game so we won’t win football games like that whether you’re playing against a team from the Championship or the Premiership. We’re not good enough just to turn up and expect to win.
“It was a disgrace, really. The fans deserve a lot better.”