Hibs defeat heaps pressure on Pat Fenlon

More uncomfortable viewing at Easter Road for Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon. Picture: Greg Macvean
More uncomfortable viewing at Easter Road for Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon. Picture: Greg Macvean
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PAT Fenlon admitted he had fully understood why supporters booed at the end of Hibernian’s 1-0 defeat at home to Motherwell yesterday and confessed he might have done the same if he had been sitting in the stand himself.

However, the Hibs manager claimed his team did not deserve to lose to Motherwell after a late goal by substitute Henri Anier gave Stuart McCall’s side all three points - a result which leaves him under enormous pressure for next week’s Edinburgh derby against Hearts at Tynecastle.

Hearts lost 1-0 at St Johnstone in yesterday’s other Scottish Premiership match, and as the two Edinburgh sides seek to bounce back, next Sunday’s derby now seems to have taken on increased significance in terms of Fenlon’s future.

Fenlon, whose team had leaked seven goals to Malmo in their previous match, said he would not be swayed from his task of bringing about sustained improvement to the club.

“It was a sore one to take, because I don’t think we deserved to lose the game, I don’t know if they booed the team off or if they booed me off,” he said. “You understand when supporters get frustrated. When you lose football matches, the supporters aren’t happy. That’s the way it is in football. You have to be big enough and strong enough to take it on the chin and move on to next week.

“If they’re booing me, it’s not relevant from my point of view. That’s frustration from them. If I were sitting up there, I would probably be doing the same. I said from the start when I came in, if I can take this club forward then that’s brilliant. It’s a fantastic football club. If I can’t and someone else comes in, then great.

“I will try to win as many games as I can. We played well today and I am disappointed we lost the game. But if you compare it to the start we had last season, we were much better than we were last year at Tannadice,” he added, referring to the 3-0 defeat by Dundee United.

Fenlon has denied being given an ultimatum in the wake of the Malmo rout that he must beat Hearts on Sunday or lose his job. But he said that in any case his aim would be to leave Tynecastle with all three points.

“Next week we will go there and try to win the game, as we did the last time we played there. It’s three points I’m more interested in, although the supporters will enjoy it if we can go there and win. Last year we started with a 3-0 loss and then went on a fantastic run. That’s the target. There was nothing in the game today against Motherwell, who everybody says are the second best team in the league. We matched them in most departments and defensively we were a lot more solid today.”

Hibs’ already lengthy injury list was added to yesterday when Alex Harris was taken off in the second half. “He’s gone to the hospital,” Fenlon added. “His ankle has swollen up badly, so we’ll see how he is. It never rains but it pours with our injuries.”

In Perth meanwhile, Stevie May scored the only goal of the game after 26 minutes as St Johnstone denied Hearts the opportunity to start clawing back the 15-point deficit they have started the season with for going into administration.