WHEN Jonny Hayes and Gregory Tade left Inverness Caledonian Thistle two summers ago, assistant manager Maurice Malpas turned to Terry Butcher and wondered what they would now do for goals.
The manager told him not to worry and that it would work out, providing those who were left did the right things.
Inverness scored two goals on the first day of last season against St Mirren in Paisley and didn’t fail to score in a game until December, when they still won a point in a 0-0 draw at St Johnstone. “Not bad for a team we never thought were going to score a goal,” said Butcher yesterday, as he prepares to return to Paisley in his first game in charge of Hibernian.
Of course, he isn’t expecting things to just fall into place at Hibs, the current lowest scorers in the Premiership. Things having not fallen into place for a long time at Hibs when it comes to scoring goals. Instead, any improvement will be because they have focused on scoring goals in training over the last fortnight. Butcher wishes that they had another three weeks in which to work together, because five weeks is how long pre-season is. It wasn’t meant to sound disrespectful to Pat Fenlon, his predecessor, but there is a definite sense of ripping things up and starting again at the start of the Butcher era at Easter Road.
“It’s weird in a way because two weeks of preparation sounds fantastic,” he said. “But some were away on international duty, and Pat had given them four days off, so we were limited. It’s not been a complete two-week work-out. But we’ve got the message across about how we want to play, what we want to do. And they’ve certainly bought into it.”
Butcher can’t promise a sudden goal rush, but he has seen evidence of confidence returning to his much maligned strikers. “The way that we want to play lends itself to creating more chances and hopefully creating more crosses and shots,” he said. “It is not something the team has done with a great fluency and confidence.
“There are enough skilful players – people like Paul Heffernan, Liam Craig and Scott Robertson and people like that who have scored the majority of Hibs’ goals. They have enjoyed that part of the training and they have enjoyed putting the ball in the back of the net.
“I think everyone has scored – even Rowan Vine scored, and James Collins, and everyone!”
Butcher has decided on who he wants as captain, although he won’t tell the players until today. He has been taken back by the interest in this particular matter. “I wasn’t thinking much about the captaincy until everyone started asking me about it – but I think I know what I am going to do,” he said.
“I have a couple of good options. James [McPake] has been captain already and Ben [Williams], so we’ll see. I will tell the team tomorrow so I hope no one reveals it on Twitter, Mr Vine!”
“I like to name the team on a Friday and name the subs on Saturday. I like to get these routines in place,” he added.