Hibs manager expresses sympathy for Hearts counterpart embroiled in salaries crisis, writes Stuart Bathgate
LEARNING how to motivate a squad who have not been paid is one of the topics dealt with on coaching courses, Colin Calderwood revealed yesterday. The Hibernian manager said that, as a player, he had occasionally been paid late, but admitted that did not compare to the present situation across the city at Hearts, where the first-team squad are now more than two weeks late in receiving their salaries.
“Unless you have experienced it, I don’t think you would understand what’s going on,” Calderwood said. “I can imagine it can be difficult.
“There have been scenarios over the years that I’ve been involved in as a player in wages not being paid on time, but more or less it was always addressed. I can imagine it will be difficult, very, very difficult.”
Calderwood expressed sympathy for Hearts manager Paulo Sergio, who has seen his team lose the two matches they have played since their wages were delayed. And he explained that some of the situations he had been asked to deal with on a coaching course had appeared implausible at the time, but later turned out to be realistic.
“It’s one of those scenarios that you get pulled up on a coaching course [to see] how you would handle it, and it will be awkward for Paulo. There is no doubt about that.
“They just give you the scenario [at a coaching course] and you have to think about the outcomes and how you handle them. As strange as some of those things were, they actually happen.”
So far this season, Hibs have had to deal with a more familiar footballing problem – inconsistency on the pitch. Four points from their last two games, at St Mirren and Celtic, have represented a degree of progress, but Calderwood warned that improved form will have to continue at home, where Hibs meet Dunfermline tomorrow. “We have to take advantage of a home game,” he said. “Come the end of the season, the majority of teams will win more home games than they do away from home. It would be nice to have a performance in front of our own fans and go into the break on a positive spin. I think there are basically ten, 11 teams in the league that are inconsistent, so we’re no different to the majority. What we have to do is put a longer run together and then gain momentum from that.
“I think we’ve had an improvement with getting draws, and now what we’re after is a greater share of victories rather than draws. If we win two of the next four games, people will see that as an improvement to how it was a while ago. That would maintain some sort of position in the league.”
Calderwood has played an attacking formation in recent games, with strikers Garry O’Connor, Leigh Griffiths and Junior Agogo starting together, and Hibs fans will expect a good showing from the trio tomorrow. The manager warned, however, that his team could not afford to be too gung-ho against Dunfermline, and mentioned Hibs’ last home match as an instance of how optimistic expectations could be confounded.
“We’ve got everything to gain by having a positive performance and being ready for it. We were set up for a good home tie against Motherwell, who are sitting high in the league, and we missed the opportunity. We didn’t do our job and we have to learn from that and make sure we are positive, but not kamikaze, about the way we go about it, and show how we have learned this season and learned in the last month.
“It’s a different proposition this weekend [compared to the last two away games]. It’s a completely different scenario, because we’ll have to be on the front foot a lot more, create and have more of a goal threat.”
Griffiths missed training yesterday because of illness, but should be available for the game against the SPL’s second-bottom club, while Ian Murray remains doubtful because of the groin problem which kept him out of action last weekend.
“Callum Booth, who also missed the match at Celtic Park, is recovering from his ankle injury but will play no part against Dunfermline, and may be withdrawn from the Scotland under-21 squad.
“Callum has come through the game but is not ready for selection yet,” Calderwood said. “We need to talk to the SFA as well, as he’s only played 45 minutes. He could easily go with them and train and be available, but I would not think he would be a starter from where he is now to a week on Monday.
“If we don’t think he’s right, he’s not going. I think Billy [Stark, the under-21 manager] fully understands what happens at a club and understands the position. If they were wanting [Booth] to play 90 minutes he would really have to work hard and convince us at the beginning of the week that he was up to that and, at the minute, he’s not.
“I wouldn’t want him to go there and not be right. It wouldn’t be right for Scotland or for Callum and ourselves if he wasn’t ready. We think he should be ready for the following weekend.”