Video analysis helping Hibs’ Lewis Stevenson ahead of Rangers clash

Lewis Stevenson has been forced to overcome a long-held aversion to watching footage of his own performances as the Hibernian stalwart embraces a new tech-savvy regime at Easter Road.

Hibs' priority is to finish in the top six says Lewis Stevenson. Picture: SNS.
Hibs' priority is to finish in the top six says Lewis Stevenson. Picture: SNS.

The 31-year-old, below, acknowledges that analysing his displays is not the most thrilling viewing experience, and is sometimes best seen through his fingers, but he is becoming increasingly appreciative of the attention to detail shown by Paul 
Heckingbottom.

The new Hibs head coach has assembled a crack team of analysts – a far cry from the “one person with a camera” Stevenson became accustomed to – to record, edit and present video clips to the squad, often personalised for each player.

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The digital literacy of the new coaching team is also evident in their use of GPS and obsessive recording of metrics. No stone is being left unturned in search of marginal gains in Leith.

“In the past I wasn’t a big fan of watching myself,” he smiled. “But we are having lots of short meetings with a lot of information and it has been good.

“You can get a lot out of it. You can learn a lot from it defensively and shape-wise in attack. It does give you more options and lets you see the game from different areas of the pitch.

“As a defender it’s maybe not as exciting seeing yourself making a tackle or a block than it is a striker scoring a goal. It’s not as interesting for defenders but tactically it is very important and our video analysis team do a great job.

“Before it was only one person with a camera and you had to fast forward or go back through everything and it was a bit stop-start, but now the meetings are short and sharp and you still get everything you need.”

Suffice to say plenty of sessions in Hibernian’s video room at their East Lothian training base have been devoted to the myriad threats posed by Rangers, particularly Ryan Kent – who played under Heckingbottom at Barnsley – Alfredo Morelos and James Tavernier.

Tavernier and Kent, specifically, will be charged with giving Stevenson, pictured, a torrid time on the flank tonight.

“We did a bit of video analysis on Wednesday on Ryan Kent,” revealed Stevenson. “We didn’t know a lot about him at the start of the season, but he has done really well. He’s a dangerous player and one we’ve got to look out for.

“The manager has spoken about the fact that Rangers are very strong attacking down the right and I’ve had a few battles with them in the past. They are two top quality players who can hurt you. Their delivery from the right is very good so we will have to try to nullify it.”

Turning his attention to Morelos, who had a £20 million price-tag slapped on his head this week, Stevenson smiled: “He’s got a bit of everything. I shouldn’t be saying that so close to the Rangers game! No, he’s a handful. Some people maybe touch on the chances
he misses but he’s always there and, speaking to any centre-halves, they don’t enjoy playing against him.”

A dream start to the Heckingbottom era at Easter Road was halted by Celtic’s 2-0 win in last Saturday’s Scottish Cup quarter-final. Nevertheless, the Yorkshireman still boasts a 100 per cent record in the Premiership after three successive victories.

That has propelled the capital club into the top six and they will move level on points with Hearts – albeit potentially only for 24 hours – with a win over Rangers.

“Our priority right now is to get into the top six and a few weeks ago that looked unlikely,” added Stevenson. “But with three wins we’ve given ourselves a good chance.

“There’s plenty of points to play for. I don’t want to put a figure on it… but five wins out of five before the split would be nice!”

While encounters between Hibs and Rangers tend to be breathless, enthralling affairs on the pitch, there will be just as much attention on the stands after a Buckfast bottle was thrown at Celtic’s Scott Sinclair last week.

The eyes of the nation will now be on a powder-keg fixture scheduled for a potentially explosive Friday night time-slot. Stevenson, however, is confident that calm heads will prevail.

“It would be good if on Friday everyone is talking about the football again, rather than anything else,” he added. “It’s been happening too often this season, with objects being thrown on to the pitch.

“There’s a spotlight on it now and there will be a big focus on it behind the scenes with the security people but I’m sure it won’t happen on Friday.”