HIBERNIAN manager Pat Fenlon has told supporters to blame him – and no-one else – for a “disastrous” start to the season and has guaranteed he will not have to be told when his time is up at the club.
The Irishman survived huge pressure even before the league campaign started following the humiliation of a 7-0 home (9-0 on aggregate) hammering by Malmo in the Europa League that left the club with the unwanted record of Scotland’s heaviest defeat in Europe.
With Premiership losses to Motherwell and Hearts following on, chairman Rod Petrie was forced to withstand repeated calls from some supporters to sack Fenlon, who also presided over the embarrassing 5-1 thrashing by Hearts in the 2012 Scottish Cup final.
However, despite Saturday’s 3-0 defeat by Inverness bringing a six-game unbeaten sequence to an end, Fenlon told the club’s annual general meeting he feels progress is being made.
And he promised that, if he does not succeed in taking the club back to the upper echelons of Scottish football, he will not stay on and accept such under-achievement.
He told Tuesday night’s 200-strong meeting: “At the end of the day, football is my responsibility. I know where we are is not good enough for the club, but from where we came in to where we are now I think we’ve made progress.
“If it does not happen, I’m not one to stay around to see failure, but what I will do is work as hard as I can to turn things around.
“The start of the season was a disaster. That was totally down to me as a manager but we’ve managed to improve and we want to keep improving.
“I’ll give you the guarantee if that does not work, then nobody will have to tell me. It’s my responsibility to win football matches and if we’re not doing it then I’ll take responsibility for it.
“If I can’t do that I won’t hang around, because I wouldn’t do that to the football club.”
Fenlon’s comments came at the end of a heated exchange between some supporters and Petrie, who steadfastly refused to give in to calls from the floor to quantify just what would represent success this season.
The chairman said: “The first objective of the football club is not to put it at peril and the second objective is to win games with whatever resources you have available.”
In a message that ran through much of his comments surrounding the financial health of the club – which made a £132,000 profit for the 12 months to 31 July this year, as opposed to a £1 million loss the previous year – Petrie hit back at supporters of troubled neighbours Hearts, who were plunged into administration in June.
He said: “Given the major uncertainty over the SPL’s finances in the summer of 2012, our financial results are probably better than anyone expected, including – I’m told – fans of another club, who were confidently predicting that we would follow them like lemmings over the cliff.”
Meanwhile, Fenlon told supporters he is convinced his squad will come good but that he will seek to strengthen in some areas, if finances allow, in the January transfer window.
He said: “We brought in a lot of new players and it does take time for players to settle down and gel, and there have been signs of them doing that in recent weeks. There are signs it is improving.
“Losing so heavily to Malmo knocked their confidence but there has been a slow turnaround in recent weeks and that will lead to better football.
“Confidence in football is a big thing and some, in particular Scott Robertson and Liam Craig, who are good players, have stepped up their performances.
“When you look at the squad, the balance is quite good – when we’ve got everybody available. We’ve got a good group of players at the moment but a little bit of pace would help us in the wide areas and maybe up top.”