Paul Heckingbottom has confessed that Hibernian’s embarrassing thrashing from Rangers is a “wake-up call”.
The Easter Road men were hammered 6-1 at Ibrox on Sunday afternoon in what their manager has admitted was a “horrible scoreline”.
The humiliating defeat has left some supporters questioning Heckingbottom’s future at the club and the quality of his summer signings, all of whom came from the lower leagues in England.
The Hibs manager reckons his side had recovered from a torrid opening spell at Ibrox to give themselves hope when Daryl Horgan’s counter from a sensational Scott Allan pass hauled them back to 2-1 shortly before the interval.
But defender Sean Mackie’s red card ten minutes into the second half changed the complexion again and Jermain Defoe’s third goal 16 minutes from time opened the floodgates in worrying fashion.
Alfredo Morelos came off the bench to notch a couple of goals and Sheyi Ojo hit the target as Hibs were hit for six.
“It was a horrible scoreline, with poor defending and poor quality on the ball when we had ten men,” said Heckingbottom. “We were just a bit on the back foot in the first half an hour, but we wanted to be more positive.
“It’s a wake-up call, that’s what it is. That’s what happens when you don’t do the basic things right. It’s an opportunity to stress that and show that, and pick a team based around that. That’s how I see it.”
It’s the first time Heckingbottom has come under such heavy criticism from Hibs supporters, but Scotland striker Marc McNulty has heaped praise on the manager and believes the club could struggle to retain the Englishman.
The Reading marksman, currently on loan at Sunderland, enjoyed a fruitful four months on loan at Hibs in the second half of last season, making his international debut and scoring eight goals in 17 appearances. McNulty believes Heckingbottom and number two Robbie Stockdale played a huge part in his success and are destined to move on.
Speaking before Sunday’s defeat at Ibrox, 26-year-old McNulty told the BBC: “I can’t speak highly enough of the manager. Him and the assistant probably were two of the best coaches I’ve worked with.
“They both like to be hands-on, they are good one on one and I’m grateful they gave me the opportunity to play every week. I think Hibs will do really well this season and I’ll be surprised if they manage to keep hold of him.”