HIBERNIAN defender Michael Nelson has played down the significance of his team’s poor home record this season, insisting they will be content to remain more effective on the road if it means they continue to climb the Premiership table.
Easter Road has largely been a house of pain for Hibs supporters who have witnessed just two victories for their favourites there in the whole of 2013 so far.
Pat Fenlon’s side have won just one of their past 11 home games and have yet to achieve the feat this season. By contrast, they have racked up six victories from their past 11 away games, including last Saturday’s 2-1 win at St Johnstone.
It has placed Hibs in position to climb into the top six if they can defeat struggling St Mirren at Easter Road today, but veteran centre-half Nelson claims they are far from consumed by a need to start winning at home again.
“It’s just one of those things, sometimes you win at home and sometimes you win away,” said the 33-year-old Englishman.
“Obviously, you want to win at home, because you want to give the majority of the fans something to cheer about. It’s nice to win away as well for the people who get up early in the morning and travel a bit of distance to those games.
“But if you get three points, it doesn’t matter where you win. As long as we are picking up points, whether it be at home or on the road, we’re not bothered.
“A good record is good to have, regardless of where it is, away from home or at home. The main reason we want to win at home is to give the fans who come in week in week out something to cheer about.
“But if you are going to have an unbeaten run, we’d rather win away and draw at home than win at home and lose away. You get four points for a win and a draw and you only get three for a win and a loss. As long as you are picking up points, it’s not massively important where you get them.”
Nelson, a League Cup winner with Kilmarnock two seasons ago, was signed from Bradford City last month as Hibs looked to tighten up a defence which humiliatingly leaked seven goals at Easter Road in their Europa League exit against Malmo.
He has been satisfied with his first few weeks as a Hibs player and believes they have proved they are not a soft touch, an accusation regularly levelled against them in recent times.
“It’s people’s opinions,” shrugged Nelson. “If you are getting beaten and on a bad run, it’s probably the default comment people will chuck at you, whether they have looked at the stats or not.
“They probably chuck that one out straight away, that you have a soft underbelly. The amount of times I have heard that in the past, at various clubs, I think it is a bit lazy to say it without actually looking at the stats and the facts.
“I can’t really comment on the Malmo result, I wasn’t here. But it’s gone now and we’re concentrating on the league and progressing. It’s been a little bit of a slow start to the season but it’s certainly picked up over the last few games. No-one has rolled us over since I’ve been at the club, no-one has absolutely battered us or had us chasing shadows.
“I feel like I have settled in quite well. I think the performances have improved as the games have gone on. Now we’re sitting on the back of a four-game unbeaten run, with two really good results away from home, having gone a goal down in both games.”
While Nelson focuses on trying to keep the opposition out, he is excited by the strike partnership potential of James Collins and his former Kilmarnock team-mate Paul Heffernan, who both scored in last week’s win in Perth.
“Even in training last week, when they were on the same side in seven a side games, you could see that, without having worked on anything, their partnership sort of evolved naturally,” he said. “Hopefully, that will develop in the weeks and months ahead.
“Their movement is good and they are both strong boys and they’ll hold it in. It is not just all about the goals they will score, it is about the amount of work they get through for the team and trying to bring other players in, like Liam Craig and players who drive forward from midfield.
“They’ll ask questions of centre backs. They won’t just stand up against them and keep them static, they will move them around and put them into positions where they don’t feel comfortable.”