THE BRUTAL assessment offered by James McPake following Hibernian’s meek capitulation at home to St Johnstone was as uncompromising and no-nonsense as the big defender’s style on the pitch.
“Unacceptable” was an adjective which made several appearances as he looked back ruefully on the 3-1 reverse at Easter Road on Monday, while conceding it represented the worst Hibs display of the current season. It was a result which brought jeers raining down upon the men in green and took the club’s winless run in the Scottish Premier League to five games.
More alarming for McPake than the current malaise in terms of results, however, was the apparent similarity to the dismal campaign last term as the Easter Road side fought for their top-flight survival before being thrashed 5-1 by great rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup final.
“Looking back, it felt like a game from last season,” said the candid Hibs captain. “When I went home after the match, that was the feeling I had and it was not pleasant.
“For the first 15-20 minutes it was an even game but we lost a goal and completely folded. We have not been doing that this season, we have been more resolute than that.
“Monday night was totally unacceptable. You do not ever want to lose but, if a team outclasses you and are just better, then you can hold your hand up and say ‘there’s not much you can do’. However there is not one of us, from one to 11, who could go home and look at ourselves in the mirror and say we were even half-decent or worked hard enough. It was not good enough all over the park.
“When you get home, it is a horrible feeling. You want to be happy and content, and your performance can dictate that after a game. But the manner in which we lost that game was the killer on Monday night.”
Former Livingston and Coventry defender McPake has, for the most part, enjoyed the unfettered admiration of the Hibs faithful since his arrival at Easter Road in January 2012, and is seen as a stalwart at the heart of Pat Fenlon’s more resolute outfit.
However even the skipper’s performances have been questioned of late and he concedes that the supporters have every right to vent their fury at the current run of results being endured by their side.
Indeed McPake acknowledges that, had it not been for a strong start to the 2012/13 campaign, there would now be more than a passing resemblance to last season.
“Thankfully our start has ensured we are still in the mix because, if we had not started well, we would be in a relegation battle,” the 28-year-old continued. “I am sure of that.
“The fans have a right to turn on us, which they did a little bit. We did not put in a performance that was good enough for them. Monday night was the worst of the season all over the pitch.”
Despite McPake’s refreshingly honest appraisal of a miserable evening, and sequence of results, for the Edinburgh outfit, he was keen to re-iterate that there is no crisis at Easter Road.
In an SPL which is defined by parity – three points separate Hibs from second spot, yet they are just five about 11th place – he retains lofty ambitions ahead of Saturday’s trip to St Mirren.
“We are not in a crisis,” insisted the Northern Ireland international.
“We have lost a few games, which isn’t great, but we are still there and, in football, you have to take the positives.
“Just for the moment, we need to put results to the back of our heads and get back to playing well because, on our day, we are one of the best footballing teams in the country. If we are playing well the results take care of themselves. That is the big thing, we can’t dwell on this run or we will get sucked all the way back down. That is maybe what some people are looking to happen, but we can’t let that happen.”
McPake was talking as Hibs and club sponsor Crabbie’s launched a promotion to search for five deserving fans to be the face of the club and feature in next season’s kit launch.
For the Famous Five promotion, Crabbie’s are calling on fans to nominate five local community heroes and deserving supporters who they think are worthy of becoming the face of Hibernian and Crabbie’s.
Stamp cards will be available at participating Crabbie’s outlets throughout the city and, every time a Crabbie’s is purchased, customers will be given the opportunity to nominate someone they think is deserving of the prize.
Every fan who nominates someone will also be entered into a draw to win the chance to play in a special 90-minute game at Easter Road.