Hibs suffered from a case of the January blues


Ian Colquhoun

IF YOU looked at social media of late, it would appear that fans of every club in the Scottish Premiership—bar Livingston and Rangers—are disgruntled in one way or another, with some calling for managerial changes and others merely demanding that their club sign some players. Hibs fans are no different—some are content, some aren’t. Most are happy just to be able to watch their team in the midst of this global crisis.

Jack Ross’s Hibernian side are doing fantastically well in the league; they’ve won almost half of their 26 matches and have lost just seven times, moreover, nobody has really given Hibs a ‘doing’ in the league. The club remains in the top four of the table and on course for European qualification. So, with that in mind, why are some Hibbies feeling a touch of the January blues?

The answer is simple, two more high profile matches have been lost by the green jerseys, one of which has cost the Hibees the chance to lift the Scottish League Cup for a fourth time. The other disappointment was in yet another defeat to Rangers.  Both results were unacceptable to the Hibernian faithful. Yet life goes on.

Hibernian’s 1-1 draw away to Celtic was followed up by a solid 2-0 victory over Kilmarnock at Easter Road. The Hibees’ goals came courtesy of an own goal by Killie’s Alan Power and a late strike by Alex Gogic (above). That win was down to industry, teamwork and effort rather than silky soccer, but at the end of the day, a win is a win.

Since winning the 2016 Scottish Cup, Hibs have been back at Hampden five times and lost five times. The 2017 defeats there to Aberdeen and Celtic were unlucky—the Hibees put up a good fight in their ties against Aberdeen and Celtic. However, since then, three embarrassing defeats have come at the national stadium. 2019 brought a spanking from Celtic, 2020 saw an irksome defeat from lower-tier Hearts, while the most recent disappointment came against St Johnstone in the Betfred Cup semi-finals.  The Hibees started that match well and could have scored a couple, but didn’t grasp the bull by the horns. The Saintees upped a gear and won the match somewhat easily in the end, 3-0.  The Hibee faithful expected better from their heroes but on the day the better side won. The Perthshire men will face in-form Livingston in the final.

The Hampden fiasco against St Johnstone was followed up with a narrow 1-0 defeat at home to Rangers. Alfredo Morelos scored for the light blues, but should also have been red-carded for a sickening stamp on Ryan Porteous. Referee Kevin Clancy saw the incident, but did nothing, though the Gers striker has been charged with violent conduct by the SFA and may face a ban. That wasn’t the only refereeing mistake in the match, however, Hibs must now move on from these two disappointments against blue shirted opposition.

Hibs did move on from those defeats and got back to winning ways on Jan 30 against Dundee Utd at Tannadice, recording a 2-0 victory thanks to a first half drive by veteran Darren McGregor and a 69th minute strike by Martin Boyle. The Hibees will now look to build on that victory and if they do, they have a chance not only to catch Aberdeen in the league, but also to perhaps even challenge Celtic, who seem to be in freefall at the moment.

Defender Chris Cadden has arrived at Easter Road to bolster the squad. The Scotland international and ex-Motherwell youth has been joined at Easter Road by Australia’s international midfielder Jackson Irvine. The former Celtic, Ross County and Hull player has already provided two goal assists. There were no more new arrivals at time of going to press.

Stevie Mallan—a player with bags of talent, but who suffers from inconsistency—was the only major departure, going on loan to Turkish side Yeni Malatyaspor. Despite strong rumours that defender Ryan Porteous and striker Kevin Nisbet were both bound for England in big money moves—Porteous to Millwall and Nisbet to Birmingham City, both stayed put. Less credible rumours also concerned the future of Josh Doig. If they all do move on eventually, Hibs fans will be sad to see these lads leave the club, but these moves would be great for the players’ careers and would make sense to Hibernian Football Club as a business in the current, uncertain economic climate. Regardless, Hibs’ next challenge already looms—a midweek trip to Paisley to take on St Mirren.