BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Hibernian head coach Alan Stubbs has accused his Raith Rovers counter-part Ray McKinnon of attempting to deflect from suggestions he is destined to become the new Dundee United manager by turning his guns on Easter Road.
The Stark’s Park boss pulled no punches when quizzed regarding the capital club’s 1-0 defeat in Fife on Wednesday evening, surmising that Stubbs’ complaints about the pitch and officiating were indicative of a man feeling the pressure.
McKinnon also questioned whether Hibs would have the “bottle” to navigate what is bound to be a nervy afternoon in Leith.
Stubbs, however, reckons his opposite number has an alternative motive – and is adamant he is not wilting under the pressure.
Asked about McKinnon’s barbs, Stubbs said: “Why do you think he said all that? So that you don’t talk about the Dundee United stuff.
“He should have put a manager cam on me. Then you’d be able to go through it all. You certainly wouldn’t see me acting odd.
“He says he had a cup of tea, did he? He didn’t mention the fourth official speaking to him, telling him to calm down?
“If there would have been a manager cam on me then you would have seen me sitting down, standing up, calmly talking to the players on the bench…I must be under some pressure.
“Listen, I’m relaxed. As I have been throughout the tie. Any pressure comes from myself. I come into work every day and put pressure on myself to be even better than the previous day, the previous week.
“As a player, I put pressure on myself to be as good as I can. Maybe that’s why I did quite well.”
Hibs supporters could be forgiven for approaching Easter Road with some degree of trepidation, having seen their side relegated by Hamilton and eliminated by Rangers on their own patch to end consecutive campaigns.
However, Stubbs has no time for the ghosts of playoff past, and has told supporters ‘if you bring your A-game, we’ll bring ours.’
“If Ray is supposedly talking about Easter Road, then let’s show him how difficult a place it is,” he continued. “Our home form has been very good all season.
“We’ve gone there the other night and the lads were disappointed. You don’t have to be a psychologist – although Ray is, by the sounds of it – to see that.
“We need to score twice now and the fans have got a huge part to play. People talk about coming here and frustrating the team and ensuring that seeps into the crowd, and how that can have a negative affect.
“Let me flip that on its head. What about the positive effect when fans are really behind the team, as they have been all season, and make Easter Road a hostile, intimidating place tomorrow.
“I have been involved in some fantastic game this season where the crowd has been unbelievable. Let’s have the fans bring their A game as well as the team.”