'We had a team full of them' - Hibs derby hero tells current side how to beat Hearts
And, as the capital sides square up again this Saturday, in the Scottish Cup semi-final at Hampden, the former striker and manager has warned the current squad that if they do not believe themselves capable of turning things around after last weekend’s league disappointment, they probably won’t.
“It was a set-back not to qualify for the top six and they’ll have been gutted that it was a derby loss but that’s when strong characters are needed, to prove everybody wrong,” said the Finn, who is currently working as a UEFA technical observer while he waits for the right route back into management.
“Saturday is a day for guys with the proper attitude. It’s exactly the same as when they went to the Scottish Cup final [against Rangers in 2016], not too many people believed Hibs would win it. But they did and that’s fantastic.
“Now we’re talking about the semi-final and of course they can win it, no question. But the cornerstones of the team are needed. It is an old cliché, the bigger the match, the more good players shine and come good, and I’m sure that will be the case this weekend.
“I believe there are some strong characters. When I played, we had a team full of them. We had a fantastic record against Hearts and every player in every position was a strong character. Coming into the derbies we had to believe and we did. I think that players are a big part of that but it is also a manager’s job to instill that. I’m sure Shaun will have the team ready.
“We had big Frank [Sauzee], who was quiet, and Yogi, who certainly wasn’t quiet. He made sure that everyone knew what it was about. Before the derbies, I used to shout: ‘Let’s get ready for Jambos!’ That was my fighting call but we had many guys who made sure that we were up for it. Some others, like Russell Latapy, didn’t need to be loud and slap other players, he did his talking on the pitch.”
Maloney has spoken of the club identity and inviting former players to the training ground to help invigorate the current squad. The goal hero of that 6-2 triumph hasn’t made the sojourn yet but his exploits, and those of his team-mates that day, serve as a reminder of how defying doubters can earn them a chapter in the fabled history of the club.
And, just as many under-estimated the Leithers in the 2016 Scottish Cup final, in 2000 their walloping of a very good Hearts team was a timely response to Rangers manager Dick Advocaat writing them off. This weekend Paatelainen says they can throw up another shock.
“When you look at the Hampden matches against Hibs, Hearts have had the upper hand every time. But that’s when you need a mentality of ‘come on guys, let’s do it’ I think it can happen, 100%.”
Mixu Paatelainen was speaking ahead of An Afternoon with Mixu, a Q&A event for Hibs fans in Leith on Sunday June 5th. For tickets go to www.headlineevents.online/mixu
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