Hibernian aced their start to the season, recording only a single defeat (away in Europe) in all competitions in July, August and September. October hit them hard: four games, four defeats, then came a 25-day lay-off, with an international break augmented by a period when half the team had to isolate.
When you look back on their results, how they reached next week’s League Cup Final is an oddity, but they did so in some style against a Newco side that capitulated in the face of even-handed officialdom. Defend poorly, against Martin Boyle in particular, and you will lose goals.
That the team on the worst run of form in Scotland reached the final is irrelevant, if they are good enough to get there, they are good enough to take seriously. I would prefer Jack Ross to have remained as manager, instead of resigning after last night’s defeat to Livingston (we have all been there, Jack). What their former manager could not do is maintain discipline. Their worst two results in recent weeks: defeats to Ross County and Livingston, saw two late red cards in each game, as the team lost composure when they needed it most.
Hibs will now hope for the dead cat bounce effect to come into play at Hampden. This phenomenon holds up statistically, although the effect soon runs out of fuel. The full horrors of last season came home to me after we dropped points to Jack Ross’s Hibs 54 weeks ago. Celtic’s trajectory was clear, but we would wait a further 3 months before Neil Lennon resigned. That cat did not bounce.
We have three games before the final, home to Motherwell, away to Ross County and tonight’s dead rubber against Real Betis. At the corresponding fixture last season we discovered David Turnbull and Ismaila Soro were capable of improving the team. Who knew? I’m sure Ange Postecoglou will hope for the same from some of his fringe players tonight.