Raith Rovers manager Ray McKinnon says Hibernian counterpart Alan Stubbs was just looking for excuses in the wake of his team’s 1-0 defeat in Kirkcaldy on Wednesday.
Hibs’ promotion prospects are in the balance ahead of the quarter-final play-off return leg at Easter Road tomorrow following the defeat which Stubbs put down to a poor pitch and poor refereeing.
McKinnon, while lauding the efforts this season of a man he holds in high regard, believes Stubbs’ griping was a symptom of the strain he and his club have been placed under by what is at stake as they seek to avoid a third season outside Scotland’s top flight.
“That is pressure, blaming everything apart from not getting a result,” McKinnon said. “I never see Stubbsy like that and I know him really well and get on great with him.
“I accept it and, when he woke on the morning after the game, he probably thought twice about blaming this and blaming that. It was the same for us. I thought the referee didn’t give us some decisions – it’s part and parcel of football.
“There’s pressure attached to what he’s doing and how he handles it is important to him. There’s no pressure on me. I had a cup of tea with me on the bench and cruised through that game.
“I can see there’s pressure for them. I could see their bench, it was animated and they were calling for everything, chasing everything, chasing down the fourth official. If he’s blaming the park and things like that then that, for me, is deflecting and that tells me there’s pressure, it’s as simple as that.”
Yet, despite pressure that has been ramped up by a loss McKinnon acknowledges “makes life very nervous for Hibs, no doubt” in their home leg, the Raith manager has not been impressing on his players that they can capitalise on twitchiness from both home players and fans at Easter Road. The infamous brittleness attributed to Hibs when faced with a major test will not feature in his team talk at lunchtime tomorrow.
“To be honest, I’ve never used that. Because I actually don’t believe in it,” McKinnon said. “I think it’s something people have created. From the outside, people can say they’re weak, blah-blah-blah, talk about ‘doing a Hibs’. I just think pressure is pressure. And there is pressure on that club. That’s just a fact.
“They are a massive, massive club with a great squad, an expensively-assembled squad – and they need to be playing Premiership football. Our pressure is can we progress to the next round? If we can do that, what a bonus that is, the club will make a few quid from the extra home gate.
“I don’t feel that pressure at all. I can say that honestly. I was quite calm on the bench last night… I think.”