Emotional Rocky Bushiri opens up on Hibs woe and has say on manager situation

Defender says players must take responsibility and is fed up of pressure on boss

Poor Rocky Bushiri was landed with the tough job of facing up to the press after Hibs’ humiliating 4-0 loss by Aberdeen at Easter Road.

In a season punctuated by difficult moments, this was surely the toughest of them. Missing out on the top six was a hammer blow to this Hibs squad and while manager Nick Montgomery was spared the axe for such a failure, a full review of the football structure is under way in conjunction with new shareholder Bill Foley and his Black Knight group. Montgomery was told an improvement in results was expected. Since that statement, Hibs have won one and lost two. They have two more matches left, against Motherwell at home and Livingston away.

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Bushiri pulled no punches as he dissected the Dons defeat. With the pressure now bearing down on Montgomery, the Congolese centre-half said players need to take responsibility. Hibs have only won nine Premiership matches since Montgomery took over in September and are in danger of finishing ninth. Everyone is fighting for their futures.

Hibs manager Nick Montgomery is under increasing pressure.Hibs manager Nick Montgomery is under increasing pressure.
Hibs manager Nick Montgomery is under increasing pressure.

"Bad, embarrassing,” was Bushiri’s assessment. “Losing 4-0 at home, there are no other words. It's not good at all. I feel we started quite well, sharp and on the front foot. We were winning corners but when you concede two goals so quick after each other, it's like you need to run after the score. Then it's all about who is mentally strong enough to continue because it is still a long way to go. It is not for me to judge everybody's mental aspect. It's hard, a game like that and you end up losing 4-0.

“We are all heartbroken as we have let so many people down now. Especially after not making top six, there's a feeling like we deserve to be up there. But when you perform like that you know it is not good enough. Everybody should reflect on themselves, look themselves in the mirror. Have I done everything to be at my best?”

Bushiri was asked if it feels like the players have let the manager down. “I can't say that,” he replied. “I don't like those kind of questions as we are there as a group. When I see how the week goes, everybody is there. We give everything in training. When things are going against you, it's just trying to make it click. Wednesday, last game at home, do it for your family, the fans, for Paul and Stevo, find a purpose. You play for Hibs, do it for Hibs and go from there. Then there is next season. There are going to be changes and different things.

“I have been here two seasons and all the time it's manager, manager, manager. The responsibility is shared. It's also on us, it is on everybody. Everybody included in the club. I hate finger pointing. That's not up to me to speak about the manager. Let me focus on me and the boys, the team.

Hibs defender Rocky Bushiri tries to fend off the attentions of Junior Hoilett during the 4-0 defeat by Aberdeen.Hibs defender Rocky Bushiri tries to fend off the attentions of Junior Hoilett during the 4-0 defeat by Aberdeen.
Hibs defender Rocky Bushiri tries to fend off the attentions of Junior Hoilett during the 4-0 defeat by Aberdeen.

“We train hard. Everyone is on the same page. It's not about ‘are the players behind the manager’ because you can't say every time they lose ‘ah they've let the manager down’. No. You run until the end, you look at yourself, go in front of the mirror. Did I give everything? I am a professional player. I play for Hibs, I have responsibilities. Have I done enough? It's not about manager this, that. I've had enough of this, to be honest. Can't change managers, do this, this, that. I've said it in difficult moments when it's on me, I hold my hands up – ‘guys, I've made a mistake’.”

The Hibs support – what little of them remained at full time – let the team and manager know in no uncertain terms what they thought of the performance. Anger but also apathy is setting in Easter Road. “I don't blame the fans,” said Bushiri. “They are there all of the time. They have travelled last week, we've not performed. I understand their anger. You need to give them something and they will give it back to you. I want to apologise, but I also feel apologising is ... we've tried, we've not given. But of course we need to apologise because they were there.”

Bushiri does admit that in terms of success, Hibs have regressed from a year ago, when they finished fifth and qualified for Europe. Twelve months ago, under Lee Johnson, they outplayed Aberdeen at Pittodrie and would have won had Kevin Nisbet not missed a penalty. Now the tables are turned. Matches against Luzern and Aston Villa feel a long time ago.

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“If you've made Europe last season and you didn't this season, of course you went backwards,” said Bushiri. “But how do you analyse the game? There's also a question, how does the club analyse the game? How do we want to progress? Because now we've gone on a project. It's about performance, of course, but there is a new style of play, there are lots of new things. Do you accept moments like this? It's also about the style of play.”

It was put to Bushiri that the players perhaps need stability, given so much change has happened at the club of late. Including caretaker managers, the ex-Norwich man has played under four different bosses in two years. “It's hard, after a 4-0 game, that's not the first thing I think about, you know,” added the defender. “I want to go home, watch my game, let it hurt me one more time and then like I told you, I play for Hibs. The season is not done yet. I have two games to play. I need to sort myself mentally to go into those games. I can't give you an answer on that, sorry.”

Hibs fans want answers, though – although their questions are for the board. A big week awaits for the Easter Road club.

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