TERRY Butcher has admitted his part in allowing Hibs to get “into a rut” which dragged them into a battle against relegation from the Scottish Premiership, but is confident his players have snapped out of their malaise just in time to avoid the drop.
Hibs will secure their top-flight status if they beat Ross County in Dingwall tonight, avoiding the prospect of their bid to escape the play-off spot at the bottom of the table being extended to their last fixture of the regulation season at home to Kilmarnock on Saturday.
Butcher has been encouraged by the level of his team’s performances in their two most recent games, with Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Partick Thistle ending a run of six consecutive league defeats for Butcher’s men, who have won just one of their last 17 games in all competitions.
“I’ve sensed a change in spirits over the last couple of weeks,” said the Hibs manager. “It wasn’t as if we put a copy of the league table in front of every player and said ‘look at this’. It was just a realisation from everyone about what we had to do.
“Since then, the standard of training and standard of play in the last couple of games have been spot-on. People might say ‘why was it not like that before?’.
“But sometimes you get in a rut. [Assistant manager] Maurice Malpas and I have been guilty of that sometimes as well. But we knew we could get things right and start the recovery process, which I think the players have now done.”
Butcher must reshuffle his defence again tonight following Michael Nelson’s dismissal against Thistle. However, he believes on-field indiscipline is currently a price worth paying as it confirms to him his players have discovered the attitude required.
He said: “If one of my central defenders has only got one yellow card all season, I’m not very happy. You don’t go out to deliberately commit fouls, but you go out to compete.”
BT Sport Q&A: Rangers | Hibs | Neil Lennon
THIS week’s BT Sport video Q&A looks at whether Rangers fans will buy season tickets and if the club’s supporters will force a change of ownership.
The form of Hibs under Terry Butcher is also examined following the Easter Road side’s derby defeat while the future of Neil Lennon is also considered following the announcement that his assistant Johan Mjallby is to depart at the end of the season.
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