Joe Newell reveals Hibs frustrations as he sets sights on European nights at Easter Road
The thought process being that while they cannot influence what other teams do but they can play their part in determining what happens in the contests they are involved in.
That approach has taken Jack Ross’ men to third place in the league and given them a huge prize to pitch for as the campaign edges towards a conclusion. But on Saturday, they were forced to cast a nervous glance elsewhere, relieved to see that Aberdeen had been unable to gain any ground on them in the race for third.
With the Pittodrie side up against Celtic, and Hibs hosting Motherwell, it had been an opportunity to extend their advantage to seven points, with a game in hand, but the play passed them by as they failed to reach the standards they have set this season.
Slack in defence, nowhere near competitive or creative enough in midfield and blunt in attack, it was a bad day at the office as their guests’ pressing style and solid defence made it tough for Hibs to peak.
After a buoyant few days, welcoming contract extensions for Joe Newell and Josh Doig, it was an anti-climactic end to the week.
“It had been a good week for me up until the game,” admitted Newell. “I always wanted to extend my contract. This is a club going places. There are not many clubs you can go to who can realistically achieve playing in Europe.
“This is a huge club in a brilliant city. It hasn’t been ideal not having fans, that’s kind of killed my short stay here so far, but I want to experience European nights, full houses under the lights here at Easter Road. That was the aim at the start of the season and we’re still on track.”
No-one at the club expected it would be easy to realise those ambitions but it was the manner of Saturday’s defeat that proved frustrating.
“We didn’t waken up until they scored their second,” conceded Newell.
The opener, from Jordan Roberts came in the 25th minute, the second, courtesy of Devante Cole arrived just a minute after the break. Both were embarrassing defensively. But there were also red faces at the other end of the pitch as Christian Doidge missed three very good opportunities to extend his personal goal drought to 13 games, stretching back to mid-December.
“Once they had the two goals, they defended well and we just couldn’t get back into it so you have to be disappointed,” added Newell. “We can’t afford to have games like that at this stage of the season.
“We have done brilliantly this season but it’s the business end now, we’re close to the finishing line and you need to keep the same performance level and stay at that intensity to get over the line.
“It’s not easy. This was a bump and we have to make sure that’s what it stays as. With Aberdeen not picking up a win it wasn’t too bad, but you don’t want to be looking at other clubs. You want to maintain your own standards and focus on yourself.”
A message from the Editor:
Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.