SCOTT Robertson knows all about the way which Terry Butcher likes football to be played. He still carries the scars from a chastening afternoon at Tannadice in August 2010, when Butcher’s newly promoted Inverness Caledonian Thistle side arrived and promptly handed out a 4-0 thrashing.
“That was an absolute howler of a game but I’ve already seen signs in training this week that he wants a similar style from us,” said Robertson yesterday as he prepared for Hibs’ first outing under Butcher against St Mirren this afternoon.
After four successive defeats in which Hibs have failed to score, the chances of a 4-0 away win this afternoon may be slim, but Robertson is the latest Hibs player to approve of the new manager’s philosophy.
“He is very positive in his instructions about getting shots away when you get the chance and they scored three absolute screamers that day [at Tannadice],” he said. “He told us there’s no point in trying to play that threaded pass if it gets cut out – you might as well have a shot if you’re in a decent position.
“We have passed the ball about nice but it’s not been effective in terms of scoring goals – we’re the lowest scoring team in the league. There’s definitely something wrong there because we pass it well at times but the new manager said it hasn’t been to great effect.”
“Inverness score goals from all over the pitch – centre backs, full backs, midfielders and strikers. We’re hoping to add that.”
As a midfielder Robertson is one of those who will be expected to find his range from outside the box if there are no other options on to pass. Or even if there are options Butcher clearly likes his midfielders to have a go from distance.
Robertson is not afraid to do that and only laments his poor goals to shots ratio so far this season. “I think I must have had the most shots on goals this season with the least goal return,” he sighed yesterday, before revealing that he is vying with a midfield partner to see who can finish the season with most goals. “I think a bit of bad finishing and good goalkeeping has resulted in me scoring just one goal so far,” he said. “I feel I deserve more and hopefully I’ll get more because I’ve got a bet on with Liam Craig that I’ll score more and he’s five ahead already.”
Despite such misfortune on those occasions he has set his sights on goal, Robertson has been one of Hibs’ few successes so far this season. He disputes that confidence is an issue with the team although he accepts that he is speaking on behalf of himself. He cannot get inside his team-mates’ heads. It would not be surprising if some self-doubt did exist after such a poor recent run.
“I can only speak for myself when I say that I don’t think I was lacking in confidence,” he said, when asked to explain the results that accounted for the end of Pat Fenlon’s reign. “People can help give you confidence but it comes from yourself and you need to be strong mentally. I said in the summer I had a bad season last season so I made sure this season was all down to me.
“I was trying to get myself fit and play the best I could,” he added. “Confidence might be a factor with some boys but not for myself. When there’s any change at the top of the club it gives the place a lift but it’s still the honeymoon period – we haven’t even had a game yet – but there’s a buzz about the place and we’re all up for the game.
“I had a bad season last season so I got into a positive frame of mind in the summer and I feel I’ve done myself more justice but I feel there’s more to come and hopefully I can produce that under the new manager.
“I feel I’ve played best when I’m right of a four-man midfield with a midfielder who wants to do the same as me – break forward and score a goal or be the one to sit when the other person goes. I don’t see myself as a defensive midfielder.”
Butcher has been handed an awkward brief with his first two games. After this afternoon’ strip to Paisley, Hibs head to Dingwall for next weekend’s Scottish Cup fourth-round tie with Ross County. “It didn’t matter to me whether it was Easter Road or anywhere, just the fact we have got a game is brilliant for us,” said Butcher, who did not attend St Mirren’s win over Ross County last weekend.
He has, however, since watched the DVD of the Paisley side’s victory between house hunting obligations. “I think I have seen more house schedules than DVDs over the last week,” he said, with reference to his effort to find somewhere suitable to live in Edinburgh.
“St Mirren are on a great run at the moment and Danny [Lennon] deserves a lot of praise for that and the way the players have responded to playing under immense pressure.
“We’re a team very similar to that, we have lost our last four games and have not scored a goal. So it’s up to us to respond in the same way they have done.”
St Mirren manager Lennon knows Hibs will be motivated by the arrival of Butcher and has steeled his side to be ready for a different challenge.
“Hibs are going through a transition period. Pat assembled a very good squad and Terry will come in with his own ideas, his own training methods and his own style of football,” said Lennon.
“How long that transition will take, we don’t know, but knowing Terry, and with any new manager coming in, there is always a knee-jerk reaction with players going out there and giving him their all. The slate is wiped clean and everyone will be going out to impress.
“We must, and we will be, ready for that challenge.”