It's not just dropped points that is leaving Hibs fans disgruntled - performances aren't up to scratch either
January was always going to be an important month for Hibs, but the fact it has started in such abject fashion renders the coming weeks even more important – on the pitch and in the transfer market.
Out went 2020 on the back of defeat, while Livingston’s superior performance at Easter Road on Saturday ensured that 2021 was greeted in similar fashion. And it wasn’t just the dropped points that registered with disgruntled fans, it was the manner of those losses – midweek against Ross County and then against David Martindale’s side – that turned up the volume on calls for new faces.
Speaking after the 3-0 spanking from the in-form West Lothian outfit, which turned an unflattering spotlight on every under-performing department of his team, manager Jack Ross said that his signing targets had not been altered by recent circumstances and publicly asserted his faith in the squad at his disposal.
For much of the season, they have justified that trust, whether dominating or salvaging situations. That ability to win or pick up points, on the front foot, on the counter, via set pieces or through gritty resolve, earned them plaudits earlier in the season, elevated them in the league standings and took them to another cup semi-final. But in recent games that ability has deserted them.
Despite a quality performance at Ibrox, they still left Glasgow empty handed and returned to Leith where a lack of ingenuity cost them. The response to that should have been a spirited, unified and convincing showing on Saturday. Instead, they produced the opposite, and that sloppy, meek display was rewarded with the defeat it merited.
Two goals behind by the 16th minute, thanks to Josh Mullin and then Jon Guthrie’s accomplished finish, if those goals sparked concern, the absence of any real fightback, saw those worries catch fire and the alarm bells were screaming by the time the diminutive Scott Robinson burst between Ryan Porteous and Paul Hanlon and out-muscled and out-battled them both to fire low past Dillon Barnes.
That moment, along with the first half embarrassment of Max Stryjek’s poor kick out finding Christian Doidge who lacked the conviction to protect the ball and bear down on the Livi goal before being overhauled and thwarted by the single-minded Guthrie, summed up the difference between the teams. One was focused and driven, the other looked defeated long before they actually were.
“Obviously we just weren’t at it for the full game and when you have performances like that you feel like you've let everyone down, from the manager and staff who put the effort in to the fans watching on the telly,” said Jamie Murphy, who made a welcome return from injury, albeit when the team were already 3-0 and beaten.
“You always want to try to create and score goals but for whatever reason, that didn’t happen. It’s up to us as players to try to sort that in time for the next game.
“I think there is more than enough in the dressing room to police it and tell everyone what we are doing wrong and what we need to do right. We want to make sure we go on and have a successful season and make sure this isn’t the start of us going down the way.”