WHILE Hibs’ shock Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Raith Rovers on Saturday has left many fans of the Easter Road club wondering how a side which finally looked to have established some solidity over Christmas and new year can so quickly have regressed to such lacklustre form, former player Keith Wright says the defeat simply confirmed the scale of the task facing manager Terry Butcher.
Wright, who enjoyed an 18-month spell as manager at Cowdenbeath at the end of his playing career, got to know the Easter Road boss well during a short stint together at Raith Rovers in the 1990s and remains convinced Hibs have the right man at the helm, despite the 3-2 loss to Grant Murray’s side.
The SFA football development officer for Midlothian, who scored in every round on his way to lifting the Skol Cup with Hibs in 1991, said: “It must have been a boost for the players to know that Celtic were out the cup but they couldn’t beat Raith at home. It will happen one day, Hibs will win the Scottish Cup, but who knows when? It will probably be the year where they have to face Hearts, Celtic and Rangers to do it.
“It would have kept the season going for the new manager but Terry and Maurice Malpas will need to pick up the pieces now and it’s a rebuilding job for them.
“They knew that when they came in the door, that it was a long-term project, but everybody was wanting a short-term fix and the Scottish Cup was the one the Hibs fans were looking to. I always thought it would take a couple of years and they’ll be having meetings galore to get the players in that they need, but they’ve shown they can find the players and build teams at Inverness and Motherwell and, given time, they’ll do that at Hibs.”
Butcher himself has vowed to ensure Hibs restore pride in the club this weekend against Ross County following the exit to Raith Rovers.
The defeat was branded a “disgrace” by skipper Liam Craig, whose side were booed from the field at full-time. However, with a top-six spot the only target left to meet this season, Butcher has pledged to produce a quick turnaround in fortunes for the visit of County on Saturday.
He said: “There’s nothing we can do about (Saturday) now. But we can certainly affect the next performance and performances thereafter. We’ll work hard to make sure we put a team out this weekend and in the following weeks that does Hibs proud and does the supporters proud, because we certainly didn’t do that (on Saturday).
“You’re left scratching your head as to why we’ve gone out, as to why we’ve performed like that, as to why Raith Rovers won the game very, very well. They looked the top-level side, not us.”