Garry Parker has seen it all before and the Hibs assistant manager anticipates he will see it all again.
He puts Neil Lennon’s volatility down to the fact that he is a winner and seems to consider that excuse enough. But, having taken the sheen off a season that had been viewed by club insiders and outsiders alike as a successful return to the top tier, there are others who are less forgiving.
The players are still awaiting a meeting with their manager, whose caustic critique of their performance in the midweek derby against Hearts, provoked surprise and disappointment in the dressing room. Lennon will likely have some explaining to do when he meets with the club’s hierarchy on Tuesday.
Amid his digs at players on Wednesday night, he also claimed he would be reviewing his position at the club, saying he did not believe it was moving in the right direction and pondering whether Hibs could still meet his personal ambitions. He said things would be clearer after the board meeting, when future targets and budgets will be addressed as Hibs plot a way to fill the void left by the likely departure of some key players.
Parker believes Lennon will still be in position next term, and claims the furore is all a storm in a teacup, albeit one stirred up by the emotional manager. “Yeah, I’m used to it,” said Parker. “Look, Neil’s Neil. He’s a winner. He says what he says after the game – whether he’s right or wrong.”
On this occasion, speaking at a press conference Lennon had been expected to attend, even his right-hand man claimed he was wrong. Lennon branded his players unprofessional and described their performance in the 2-1 defeat by Hearts as amateur. Parker disagreed.
“No, we just didn’t turn up on the day,” said the assistant manager. “How can you say that when we have been brilliant all season? It was one game. But that’s just him. That’s how he is. He’s a winner. He just says it in the heat of the moment. I remember the same situation last year. He said the same thing to the players, then he came in the next day, called a meeting between him and the players and he apologised.
“He’ll be in [on Saturday], he’ll pick a team and get ready for Sunday [when Hibs host Rangers]. The most important thing is we get a result on Sunday, because we’re one point away from getting the most points in a season.
“We’re disappointed that we could have been second, but we lost to our rivals and we didn’t turn up on the day. We just didn’t play, simple as that. We know we can do better.”
Hibs will still try to sign off their first Premiership campaign in four years with a victory over Rangers at Easter Road tomorrow. But the home support packed into all four stands, reflecting the engagement that has been generated this term as fans flock back in numbers not seen since the 1950s, will be wondering what the new term will bring.
Having had what was described by a club spokesman as a positive meeting with chief executive Leeann Dempster and director of football George Craig on Thursday, Lennon was expected to pour water on the flames and allay those concerns yesterday. Instead his non-appearance, after apparently nursing a heavy cold and over-sleeping, only fuelled the fires.
But if he does walk away in the close season, it will come as a surprise to Parker. “No, no. That’s him all over. He does that. We’d just lost to Hearts and he’s raging.” So, Parker was asked, Lennon isn’t really considering his future? “No,” he replied. “I know he’s not”.