Lee Johnson lambasts 'timid' Hibs, questions psychology, speaks of 'fear' and points finger of blame at himself after Celtic loss

Hibs manager Lee Johnson says he will have to change a “fear factor” within his squad after watching his team lose 6-1 away to Celtic in the cinch Premiership.

Hibs manager Lee Johnson did not hold back after the 6-1 defeat by Celtic.
Hibs manager Lee Johnson did not hold back after the 6-1 defeat by Celtic.

On a chastening afternoon for Hibs, a James Forrest hat-trick, a double from Giorgios Giakoumakis and a late strike from Daizen Maeda condemned them to heavy defeat, with substitute Elie Youan netting what turned out to be merely a consolation for the visitors.

Johnson labelled his team “timid” and questioned certain players’ psychology, while also accepting blame himself with his own tactics and team selection after making a quadruple substitution at half time.

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“I’m hugely disappointed,” said Johnson. “Clearly we don’t want to come here and be as timid as we were in the first half. It was really disappointing. As a collective we wanted to be the first team to make some recent history. The first three of four minutes we had chances to enter the final third and be brave. We didn’t get at people at the edge of the box and that timid play ended up like a domino effect through the team. The first two goals we don’t get up to the ball. What is the fear factor of going to press? These are defenders who have a lot of experience in the league and as a team we can apply pressure.

"There’s a fear factor there but that’s what we have to change. It’s the hardest thing to change but it must be on a psychological level. That’s difficult for me to take and eats me up inside because second half we’ve had a good goal. We’ve still been outclassed but we tried to get to the ball apply pressure, scored a good goal. But the standard of goals we’re conceding – we’d do well to put clips together from a Sunday park league. It must be a psychological factor because I see these boys sitting third or fourth or wherever we are. I see them in training, work on drills and they often execute things. It felt we were a boxer that didn’t want to throw a punch because we were worried about the counter punch which hurt me most.

When asked where the finger of blame should be pointed, Johnson continued: “First and foremost it’s 100 per cent me. I sent the team to press in a certain way and got it wrong, it’s as simple as that and I have to take responsibility. Just as an example, two wide players were dragged back psychologically through their good play. I want front foot pressing from our wide players but it was almost like someone on our goal had a rope and was pulling them back because of Celtic’s good play. We also gave the ball away too many times.For the full-backs not to engage and to allow so many free crosses, we had to change it to a five. I couldn’t keep seeing Boyle running back towards his own goal or defenders being 20 yards from a wideman ambling out to stop a cross.

"It’s on me but you put a team out and you want them to produce their best when it matters most. When they don’t you take them off or move them on otherwise you go. That’s the nature of the beast. I want to go to sleep at night knowing our team and club is going to play in a way that has an identity that’s really matched with the fans and what they want and in the first half we were a million miles off. If I could have made seven changes I would have.

"Second half we get the goal, we show some aggression and bravery and individual one on one combativeness. But the fourth goal is embarrassing. These are the moments where everything that could go wrong did go wrong. It will be a tough week and we deserve the criticism. I’ll front it up. I’ve had nearly 500 games as a manager and this is one of the worst I’ve felt because of the goals and the lack of bog-standard professional detail in the way we concede.”