Aiden McGeady’s influence
Turning back the clock, Aiden McGeady reminded Hibs fans why their club signed him in the summer. Far from fit as the season got under way, there were several who questioned the merit in spending money on the veteran player, who looked past his best as the campaign got underway. Short of his usual pace and lacking match sharpness following rehabilitation from a knee injury, he was less influential than manager Lee Johnson would have hoped after gambling on him despite his age. But having been sidelined with an ankle injury since July, the 36-year-old was reintroduced after the World Cup break and has been building up to his first Premiership start since May 2010 when he was still playing with Celtic. Having made an input in the second half against Hearts last week, he stepped it up against Motherwell, providing the assist for Kevin Nisbet’s opening goal and proving a problem for the home defence as he ran at them with speed, football intelligence and guile. If Hibs can keep him fit, age is unlikely to prove an issue and he could be a key player in determining how successful the Easter Road club are this term.
The value of Kevin Nisbet
The value of a proven and regular goalscorer should never be underestimated, especially in a tight Scottish top flight. While Hibs are working at getting themselves into the top six and closing in on the chase for European places, it is Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and Aberdeen who currently occupy the top places. It is no coincidence that those clubs also boast the top scorers, with Kyogo Furuhashi, Lawrence Shankland, Antonio Colak, and Bojan Miovski leading the league scoring charts. None of those players have as good a goals to games ratio as Kevin Nisbet, who has made an impact since returning from his long-term knee injury. With five goals in five games, he has helped Hibs to two wins in five. Unlikely to keep that up indefinitely, he has given their season a kickstart.
On Friday it was announced that the Gambian striker would be heading back to Rainbow FC after Hibs activated a break clause in his loan agreement. But there was fallout as the player took umbrage at the decision and released his own statement criticizing manager Lee Johnson for allegedly shouting at him, the way the club had treated him, his surprise at taxes, dismay at living conditions and his frustration that he had not been given more of a chance. It was a surprising outburst, according to the club. Asked about it post-match at Fir Park, Lee Johnson said: “I like Momo a lot and he is a good player and he has a lot of potential. No-one shouted at him, we wanted him to do well, we tried to help him as much as possible. Obviously we do exit interviews with players anyway and I think he has got a little bit caught up in stuff he shouldn’t. But he’s a good lad and he’s a good player and I wish him all the best.”