Neil Lennon: new Hibs goalie good enough to play in England

Ofir Marciano in training. Picture: Alan Rennie/SNS
Ofir Marciano in training. Picture: Alan Rennie/SNS
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Neil Lennon believes he has things sorted at the back and now wants to see his strikers deliver at the other end of the pitch if Hibernian are to achieve their goal of promotion at the third time of trying.

The Easter Road boss, about to embark on his first season at the helm, says the signing of goalkeeper Ofir Marciano is a masterstroke, claiming he expects him to eventually move on to bigger and better things, and despite only joining in training yesterday, he says the Israeli could start tomorrow’s league curtain raiser away at Falkirk.

“We’ve just signed Marciano now, who is an international goalkeeper. It’s a bit of coup really to get a goalkeeper of that ilk to come and play here in the Championship in Scotland. I think he likes what he sees so far. The weekend might come too soon. We’re still waiting on all the paperwork to come through as well but even if it does we’ll have a decision to make on if he starts.

“He’s an international goalkeeper, he played in all the qualification games for Israel in the Euros, and played pretty well. He’s got great pedigree, so to bring him to the Scottish Championship, I tip my hat to my backroom team here and the board. He was blown away by the training ground and the stadium. We have got good things in place here to bring players in and tip the balance.”

Lennon believes that once he settles in Marciano, 26, will attract admiring glances from rivals as well as clubs down south.

“Yeah, I think so. It is down to him now to acclimatise to the British game and the physicality of it. He is built for it but mentally we will see what his temperament is. Israeli boys are tough, they are good types. I had [Beram] Kayal and [Nir] Bitton at Celtic and they are very good professionals. They look after themselves really well and have a good mentality.”

But if his men are to fulfil the goal of promotion, Lennon says they will need to up the ante in front of the opposition goal as well defend their own. Falkirk were a team who troubled Hibs last term, eventually ousting them from the play-offs but the bigger issue was the way Hibs often struggled to kill off teams placed well below them in the standings.

“We need to be a little bit more penetrative, certainly in terms of the possession we have and the chances we create. We didn’t score enough goals last year, I think that’s pretty obvious. Defensively if you look at the goals against column, it was pretty strong.”

Looking over the statistics, he claims the 59 goals netted in the 36-game campaign undermined the chase for the title and does not want a repeat.

“You’re averaging under two goals a game, which, for an ’attacking’ team... this philosophy that we were supposed to have had, that was really attractive on the eye, we didn’t do enough in terms of goals.

“That’s obviously something we are looking to change, maybe be a little bit more, I wouldn’t say direct, but we’ll be certainly trying to get the ball forward a lot more quickly.

“If teams sit in that’s when you have to be a little bit more patient but you still have to create chances. And that’s an area that we’ll obviously need to improve on.”