According to Paul Heckingbottom, his Hibernian side did not start well at Ibrox last weekend, and, thanks to a post-red card collapse, they didn’t finish any more adroitly. For the most part, the performance in between did not impress him much either.
Which is why he says it will take him some time to shake off the disappointment and why he is envious of his players and the opportunity they have to get the game out of their system by piecing together a Betfred Cup win over Greenock Morton tomorrow.
“We’re hoping for a backlash. We would have preferred to play sooner, on Wednesday, in the league, because this is different, this is the last 16 of a cup – that should take care of itself,” reasoned Heckingbottom.
“It’ll be with me for a long time, that, definitely, but the players get an opportunity to get it right the next game, don’t they? I think it’s important it stays with me longer anyway. In terms of standards of what I want and expect, that one will be with me for a long time.”
While the 6-1 mauling was galling, there would be some solace should it serve as a timely cue to everyone at the club of the expectations that have been raised in recent seasons and just how far they dipped below them in Glasgow.
“It’s not just the newcomers, everyone needs that every now and again,” Heckingbottom continued. “Even the staff. It is a little reminder of how hard you have to work and how things can kick you up the backside if you aren’t at it. So everyone needs that reminder, because one thing is for certain in this league, it doesn’t matter who you are playing against, you’ve got to be at a level where you are really competing and aggressive and on top of your game.
“Sometimes it is not flowing football that wins games, it is out-battling the opposition. Sometimes you need both and on Sunday we would have needed both but we only produced that for about a 15-minute spell.”
The hangover prompted a sombre mood at the beginning of the week as the management and then the players pored over the match, looking to learn lessons. But while the result and particularly the performance continue to hurt, Heckingbottom says they can’t dwell on it when there is a cup tie to play as David Hopkin brings his Cappielow side to Easter Road tomorrow.
“We always go through the games and there is always a post-mortem. Generally we focus on us and how we want to play and we look at tactical things – what we did well, what we didn’t. Maybe it is things we want to carry through into the next game but this one was basically showing them everything we don’t want to be about. They just wanted to learn from it, move on, get out onto the training pitch, work hard and be in the XI for Saturday and have the chance to put it right.”
Completion of the Glenn Middleton loan signing from Rangers has helped lift spirits and, with more competition for starting spots, there is renewed vigour, according to Heckingbottom. But one man who is keen to look elsewhere for regular football is striker Oli Shaw, pictured.
The 21-year-old has made 57 first-team appearances but, with only 20 starts, is now seeking a loan move away from Easter Road.
His manager says he is disappointed but will entertain the request, provided Hibs identify a suitable and affordable replacement. He also made it clear that he would prefer the player to remain.
“There’s interest from the Premiership and Championship but it’s nothing we can pursue right now. Oli knows the situation so we’ll wait and see. He is a good lad and he’s frustrated and wants to play. Well, score goals and work hard and you get in the team!
“We’ve told him what he needs to do here and provided him with an opportunity. I feel we’ve recruited in a way where we’ve not put anything in his path to get in the team.
“We want him here, to fight and get in the team. But one thing we can’t do is weaken our options, so he can’t go unless we bring someone in.”