Swanson thanks boss Lennon for his part in '˜special' goal

Danny Swanson had been well-warned but he says he was still taken aback by the ferocity of manager Neil '¨Lennon's outburst in the wake of the team's weekend draw against Motherwell.

Danny Swanson celebrates after making it 1-1 for Hibernian in their 3-2 Betfred Cup win over Livingston.
Danny Swanson celebrates after making it 1-1 for Hibernian in their 3-2 Betfred Cup win over Livingston.

The Easter Road forward refused to criticise his gaffer, though, saying that the brutal dressing down was the manifestation of a winning mentality and something the players will have to expect if they fail to live up to his standards.

“I had been told about it. Dazz [Darren McGregor] had told me. It’s bad, it is really bad, but it was needed. You can see the passion he oozes. He is a winner, he takes his job very seriously, and it’s not just for the show, he means it. But sometimes it helps.”

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Speaking on Saturday, after his team had squandered a two-goal advantage and had been forced to settle for a share of the points, Lennon accused his men of playing like under-8s and said that they had lacked leadership. But of that public annihilation was brutal, it was nothing compared to the lambasting he gave his troops behind closed doors.

“Sunday was worse. We were in watching the game back but I think it did help the boys even if it was a scary process. I wasn’t playing on Saturday and watching the DVD back I could say it wasn’t my fault but he could still have said something to me.”

The look on the 30-year-old’s face suggests that is not something he would have relished and while he has never encountered another manager like Lennon, he has been around the game long enough to know that criticism is part and parcel of it.

“If we have not done our jobs you have to expect criticism and accept it. But when we are doing well he is brilliant, that’s the way it works, If the boys need shouted at he’ll do it but he’s the first to praise you as well so it works both ways.”

After a bright start to his Hibernian career, the summer signing has had to be patient. But, in the League Cup, against Livingston, on Tuesday, he marked his first start in four games with his first competitive goal for his boyhood heroes and paid credit to his boss for the part he played in his performance.

“He spoke to me before the game, he was very positive in his words and helped me a lot. He took me aside, said relax, enjoy it. I did and thankfully I repaid him.”

He conceded he had been trying too hard to make his mark and felt “a bit of weight lift off my shoulders” when his effort hit the net.

Pointing to the skies when he did net his goal, he dedicated his effort to close pal Shaun Woodburn, who died at New Year. “I always dedicate my goals to Shaun but that was an extra special one. I know his dad Kevin was at the game so that made it special. Shaun was a big part in my decision [to join Hibs] and I am sure he will be very proud.” The goal took longer to arrive than anticipated but Swanson, who has dreamed of scoring it since he was a young lad, said it was worth the wait.

“It plays on your mind a bit. After every game you are thinking I still haven’t scored yet. But I still try to play my normal game and try and affect the game and my missus is always good, she always has the right words.”

And he was pleased that she was at the game to witness it. “For some reason I always envisaged it up the other end, in front of the Famous Five Stand, but that was fine. It was just good to have a lot of friends there. I think everyone was there , my mum, dad, brothers and my missus. She got a babysitter late on so everyone was here. It was a good feeling.”

The goal and the win was timely, taking the club into their fifth semi-final out of six. This will be Swanson’s first involvement, though, having last reached the latter stages of the domestic cups when he was at Dundee United more than five years ago.

“I enjoyed that as well but with Hibs it will be extra special. I am going to have a good think about it and take it all in.”

That semi final will take place next month and in the meantime the aim is to get back to winning ways in the Premiership. After a bright start, a defeat and three draws have slowed momentum and tempered expectations that had been soaring. On Saturday they travel to Ross County seeking to build on their midweek result.

Lennon declared himself happy with that one, leading Swanson to joke that at least that would allow the players the luxury of a good sleep without worrying about the debrief, but standards can still improve, according to the attacker, who was annoyed by the lapses in defence that offered Livingston hope. “We had been working on set pieces and to lose the first goal from a cross you are thinking ‘not again’. We got a goal back, then they score again but that’s just Hibs, isn’t it? That’s the way we do it, you get used to it.”

Not if Lennon can help it. Few can still be in any doubt about that.