It perhaps should perturb Hibernian supporters that Pat McGinlay doesn’t hesitate before delivering an emphatic “yes” to the question as to whether “bottle” will be key to his former club’s prospects of ending their Scottish Cup hoodoo. Moreover, it might not make them feel optimistic that the 48-year-old believes they failed to show the right temperament at Hampden already this season.
McGinlay, who had ten years with the Leith club across two spells in the 1980s and 1990s, played a crucial role the last time Hibs ended a lengthy period without silverware. He was a member of the team that in 1991 claimed the League Cup to bring to an end a 21-year trophyless spell. McGinlay cannot recall, though, the obsession with the club’s separation from the Scottish Cup, which now stands at 114 years.
Hampden is such a big pitch to play on. If you can handle the situation then you always have a good chancePat McGinlay
The Glaswegian, who had a brief spell with Celtic between his two Hibs stints, believes the turnaround in form between Championship winners Rangers and Alan Stubbs’ side suggests that there will be little in it when they meet for the Scottish Cup final. Which leads him to the conclusion that mentality could make all the difference – which he feels was true of Hibs’ League Cup loss to Ross County last month.
“I do believe bottle comes into things,” said McGinlay. “When you play at stadiums like Hampden, you need to have the bottle for it. Rangers and Celtic always have the majority of fans. Hampden is such a big pitch to play on. If you can handle the situation then you always have a good chance.
“I think Hibs need to show their character. Playing Rangers in the final will give them a lift and they are also trying to get up to the top division so that should stand them in good stead. But they have to show their bottle. I like the boy [Jason] Cummings, he’s a bit arrogant with a bit of character about him. Anthony Stokes as well has pedigree, and John McGinn has done well too. So they’ve a good team.
“But I saw that [Ross County] game and they didn’t really step up to the mark that day. These are the games where you have to show your temperament and that you can handle the occasion. You have to go into the games knowing you have that belief. The manager has to give you that feeling and get you up for it. Ross County, though, are a top team and in a division higher. So it wasn’t easy. But if they go into this final with belief and desire then they’ll have a chance.”
Hibs also hope to achieve promotion via the Premiership play-offs and if they can taste success on two fronts McGinlay believes Stubbs would naturally become a genuine candidate to follow Ronny Deila into the manager’s position at Parkhead.
“I think he must be [a candidate for it],” he said. “I don’t see many others looking good for it. Stubbs is a great character, a good coach and he’s bringing a lot of young boys through at Hibs as well. If he can win the Scottish Cup and also get them promotion then that would be massive endorsement of his qualities. He talks well, too. He has that bit of arrogance about him that you need as a manager. I’ve noticed this season that him and Mark Warburton had a bit of ongoing banter, maybe mind games or whatever, and I liked that. And I think Stubbs has handled himself well on that front.
“The fact he’s a former Celtic player should help his case, too. When you’ve been there and know the club that gives you a wee step up.”
l Pat McGinlay was speaking at a William Hill media event. William Hill is the proud sponsor of the Scottish Cup.