Why Hibs boss Shaun Maloney is channelling Wigan, not Celtic, this weekend

As a player at Celtic Shaun Maloney knew all about being favourites in cup ties, and as a member of the Parkhead side that succumbed to lower league Clyde in 2006, he knows what happens when the bigger clubs fail to meet their own high standards.

He has also been on the right end of a cup shock as Wigan upset the odds with a stoppage time victory over Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final.

“That can happen to any team. I’ve been on the less positive side, but I’ve also been on the other side of that and been an underdog who has beaten a team that’s far bigger.

Sign up to our Football newsletter

“Anything can happen in cup competitions and that’s the beauty of it.”

Shaun Maloney (right) holds off Clyde's Eddie Malone in one of the competition's shocks in 2006.

So, he understands why all eyes will be on his men when they travel to Arbroath on Sunday to play Dick Campbell’s impressive part-timers.

“That’s what we have to prepare for,” warned Maloney. “That’s what makes these competitions what they are when you play against teams in the league below, although Arbroath at the moment look like they’ve got a really strong chance of promotion.

“They’ve got brilliant home form, so it’s a really difficult match and a really big challenge.

“We have to be at our very best throughout the match to give ourselves the best chance to progress. It’s just a brilliant challenge and that’s what the cup brings. It’s a really difficult place to go.

Hibs manager Shaun Maloney is preparing for Arbroath this weekend. (Photo by Bruce White / SNS Group)

“They lost their first league game of the season at home [1-0 against Inverness on July 31] and since then they’ve been unbeaten [at home].

“So it’s just a very difficult cup match.

“My players have a lot of experience in cup competitions, even the players from different countries who we’ve brought in.

“It’s exactly the same in each country, there’s always rounds that throw up fixtures like this.

Shaun Maloney celebrates Wigan's victory over Manchester City in the FA Cup. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

“My players will be ready for the challenge. It’s a big, big challenge but they’ll be ready for it and everything that the stadium and the environment brings.”

“We’re not looking at it as a banana skin,” insisted Easter Road wing-back Demetri Mitchell, “but we’re not taking it lightly.”

They can’t afford to if current form is any guide. While Arbroath have been defying expectations at the top of the Championship, Hibs have managed just one win in seven games and they made heavy weather of that one, squeezing past League One leaders Cove Rangers courtesy of a Kevin Nisbet extra time goal.

“Yeah, they’re doing well in the Championship, so they’re used to winning games,” admitted Mitchell, who featured in rivals Hearts’ run to the 2019 Scottish Cup final. “But, we’re focusing properly and preparing for the game and looking to get the win.

“It’s something different. It’s a cup game, it can go to extra time, penalties and what not so it's exciting.

“The cup tests you in different ways, it tests your character. We’re going there to show what we can do.”

And, the former Blackpool player loves the fact there has been no dilution of the desire to win cups north of the border.

“You look at the big teams down south and they play weakened sides in the cups. But up here teams genuinely believe they can win it, I know we do.”

Read More

Read More
Hibs' Lewis Stevenson to experience a rare first as club enters 'must-win' terri...

Get a year of unlimited access to all The Scotsman's sport coverage without the need for a full subscription. Expert analysis of the biggest games, exclusive interviews, live blogs, transfer news and 70 per cent fewer ads on Scotsman.com – all for less than £1 a week. Subscribe to us today


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.