BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hibs head coach Alan Stubbs insists his side are ready to bounce back from their week from hell following clear-the-air dressing room talks.
Losses against Morton, Dumbarton and Queen of the South in the space of six days saw the Hibees slip 14 points behind Championship leaders Rangers, with the Ibrox side now odds-on to romp to automatic promotion.
The defeat in Dumfries prompted a post-mortem among the players, with Stubbs admitting that is the first time he has seen that from his squad this season.
Stubbs then afforded his players two days off following the reverse in the Borders – noting a gruelling run of nine games in 30 days – and he believes they have returned to the club raring to go.
He explained: “They are a really honest bunch of lads. They had words for a short time after the [Queens] game. It was not shouting. But it was a good sign, I like to see that. It means they care. They want to put it right as quickly as possible.
“It is the first time I have had to see that. It is the first time we have lost three games in a week.
“I would not have allowed it to be heated. I am the one who puts the heat in there! There are no players who are going to get heated. There will be no pointing fingers. It doesn’t solve anything.
“Calling someone a ‘bleep bleep bleep’ is not going to solve anything, Pointing your finger at someone and saying you are not doing this or that is not going to solve anything either.
“They have had a couple of days away since then. I was sick of the sight of them! They got out of my face, and I got out of their face. It has been full on. We get on really well, but sometimes being away from it is a welcome break.”
Stubbs has not been immune to scrutiny, admitting he racked his brain for anything he could have done directly during a trio of fixtures which have all-but ended their title hopes.
He continued: “You should always learn from adversity. I certainly do. Could I have done something better? Even when we have won the game I ask: could I have done something better?
“I am going to look at myself when we have lost a game. I have to say, in the games if I go back to them, I don’t think I would have changed an awful lot in terms of the teams I picked.
“If there has been something in the game where I could have done something better, I am all for it. I like my staff to tell me that. I am always quizzing them. I want to be the best we possibly can be – and the players will ask the same.”
After several days of recovery and analysis, the proof will be in the pudding tomorrow when Inverness arrive at Easter Road in the last eight of the Scottish Cup.
Stubbs is adamant promotion remains the club’s number one priority this term, however he has urged his side to once again rise to the challenge of facing Premiership opposition to secure a semi-final spot.
Hibs have eliminated top-flight sides Aberdeen, Dundee United, St Johnstone and Hearts in cup competitions this season and have Inverness firmly in their sights at Easter Road this weekend.
He continued: “Up until now, we have risen to that challenge against Premiership teams. We’ve got a team that is going to come and play expansively at Easter Road and it will be two teams with their own style of playing.
“They’ve got some clever football players who have good football brains. They know what they want to do. They’ve got experience and have a threat going forward. It will be about us imposing ourselves on Inverness and trying to put them under pressure.”