HIBERNIAN’s loss of Leigh Griffiths has been likened to the departure of Robin van Persie from Arsenal by Scott Robertson, who believes fans of the Easter Road club have to give the new squad time to find its feet.
Robertson, who faces his old club Dundee United today, thinks the Hibs team as a whole, and not just new striker James Collins, has to fill the void left by Griffiths, who scored 28 goals last season and is now back at Wolves.
“James Collins is a totally different player to Leigh Griffiths and you can’t compare them,” midfielder Robertson said. “James is a good player, but if you take any player out of any team who scored the number of goals Leigh did then you need the goals from elsewhere or a single player to replace that.
“Take any player out of any team at any level – look at Robin van Persie at Arsenal. He left the club and their top goalscorer last season scored 11 goals. At any level, if you lose a player who scores that many it is going to be difficult to replace them.”
So far it has proved impossible for Hibs to compensate to any extent at all for the loss of Griffiths, as in their four competitive games to date they have failed to score a single goal. But Robertson thinks that their two league games, 1-0 losses to Motherwell then Hearts, could easily have ended up in Hibs’ favour, and he is confident they will soon turn chances into goals.
“We need to step up all over the pitch – strikers, central midfielders and even central defenders at set pieces. We’ve all got a responsibility to stop the opposition from scoring and to score ourselves. I certainly enjoy scoring, and have been getting close in recent games, and I’d like to find the net on a regular basis. It’s two very similar games we’ve played so far. We’ve felt quite comfortable and not been under any real pressure, and created a couple of chances. We’ve not created a lot in the games, but if we’d taken one [chance in each] and seen it out 1-0 we’d be sitting with six points and everything would be hunky dory and no-one would be complaining. It has worked out the other way and we need to start winning games.
“I can’t say we’ve been fantastic and missing loads of chances, but we have been creating chances – home and away against Malmo and in both league matches. We are creating chances although maybe not as many as we should. We haven’t given away a lot of chances either. It has worked out we haven’t managed to take our chances and it is disappointing. That’s the main difference, really.
“Obviously the heftiness of the defeat against Malmo [a 9-0 aggregate loss in the Europa League qualifying rounds] has made matters worse. It came by trying to be positive and trying to win that home game and it never worked out for us, but I’d like to ask for patience for the manager because he has brought in a lot of new players.
“If you look at the starting line-up from the start of last season to this it is completely different. It will take time to get the balance right and find a winning formula, and hopefully we can start by winning this weekend.”
After the trauma of the 7-0 home defeat by Malmo in the second leg of the European tie, manager Pat Fenlon played five in midfield against Motherwell, appearing to concentrate on making the team hard to beat as a first step. It worked for more than 80 minutes, but once Stuart McCall’s team had gone ahead Hibs could muster little response. Robertson is sure it is possible to remain difficult to break down while creating more chances.
“It’s about getting the balance between being hard to beat and expressive going forward. It seems simple, but the players who are here are of a good enough standard to win more games than we have.
“We’ve got to remain positive in everything we’re doing, and go out and try to win our games. Everything must be positive, from manager to players, backroom staff and fans as well.
“Easy for me to sit and say that, but if the fans can help us be positive it makes it easier for us on the pitch. If you go out with the right attitude and start in the right manner, hopefully the fans will be in the right spirit.
“We’re close. We’ve been solid enough and not given away too many chances against us. We’ve been a little unlucky teams have taken the chances they’ve created and we haven’t taken ours. If we can eradicate mistakes from the goals we’ve been conceding and make sure we take our chances when they come, we’ll be on the other end of the spectrum.”