Monday, 12 August 2019

What on earth happened to Hibs?


We rarely talk about other teams on Ibrox Noise, because it’s all about the Rangers, but yesterday’s demolition of Paul Heckingbottom’s Hibs was a curious affair for just how different this Hibs was compared with the olden days of both Alan Stubbs and Neil Lennon.

Hibs were once Rangers’ genuine rivals, a duel forged in the Championship between Ally McCoist then Stuart McCall then Mark Warburton with Alan Stubbs. It was probably the box-office match in Scotland at the time, and Stubbs’ side was a match for anything Rangers put out.

Indeed, Stubbs rarely lost to that Rangers side, with only the playoff seeing Stuart McCall get the better of him.

This was a Hibs side who frequently crushed Rangers, and his successor Neil Lennon enjoyed similar success, even winning at Ibrox twice.

But from the first whistle under Paul Heckingbottom, Hibs have been… well… kind of hopeless against Steven Gerrard. He had a 10-game unbeaten run in the SPL which came undone thanks to Gerrard in the split, before yesterday’s humiliation.

Yes, we can’t forget Hibs were down to 10 men in the second half, but despite the lack of clinical finishing in the first, Rangers were a complete gulf in class above the Easter Road side.  Even in May, the stats completely favoured the home side, and Heckingbottom’s Hibs look a long way off what his predecessors achieved.

While Scott Allan did get his traditional say against Rangers with an admittedly staggering through ball for Horgan, his influence otherwise was completely negligible and he did not have the overall control of midfield that he used to. That boy could have been so much more but for that terrible career-destroying decision he made all those years ago. But regardless, the guys who would normally put Rangers to the sword when these sides meet just didn’t have that kind of impact.

Allan, Kamberi, Gray, Whittaker, McGregor, Doidge etc – these are the sorts of players who once hurt the men in blue – yesterday they had next-to-no influence.

Yes, Steven Gerrard is a big reason for this, but equally there’s something limp about Hibs now under this manager – the visitors looked like they had no punch, no guile, little energy – and they appeared to be trying to break up play and be defensive from the start rather than playing the football they used to.

Bear in mind also prior to Heckingbottom’s appointment, with Lennon in charge Rangers hadn’t beaten Hibs since December 2017.

Steven Gerrard has certainly changed the dynamic in the past two matches, but with Stubbs/Lennon in charge he hadn’t managed a win over the Edinburgh men at all till May.

This is something that has dramatically changed, but it owes as much to Hibs’ new manager as it does Rangers’. Food for thought.


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