BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
TOP sports psychologist Tom Lucas believes Hibernian can take inspiration from famous fan Andy Murray as they chase the holy grail of the Scottish Cup this weekend.
The Easter Road side must recover quickly from the shattering disappointment of losing their promotion play-off semi-final against Falkirk in such dramatic circumstances on Friday night as they prepare to take on Rangers this weekend.
Defeat to Falkirk was just the latest hammer blow to hit the capital club in the last few seasons, with supporters suffering disheartening letdowns in three cup final defeats, semi-final losses, relegation via a penalty-kicks decider and last year’s play-off defeat to Rangers.
However, Lucas, who has helped a host of football clubs and players, as well as a range of golfers and other athletes, is adamant they can bounce back if they do not feel sorry for themselves.
And he believes Murray’s success in defeating nemesis Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s Rome Masters final – only the Scot’s second victory over the Serbian in 14 attempts since winning gold at the London Olympics in 2012 – should spur Hibs on to believe they can rally and finally break the club’s Scottish Cup hoodoo.
Lucas, who has worked with the likes of Celtic, Rangers, Everton, Wolves and Hibs in the past, told Capital City Press: “There’s Andy Murray. How many times has Novak Djokovic beat him? Yet, eventually, he gets there, and it’s about having that self-belief.
“What you can do is you can get yourself into that downward spiral, thinking ‘we’re always the bridesmaid and never the bride. We’re doomed to be losers’.
“That’s up to the manager and the players to get that mindset sorted out. And they’ve got this week to really convince themselves that, one, they’re a good team and, two, they can win it.
“At this moment in time there’s at least three of the starting 11 who think they’re not going to win it, and probably more in terms of the squad.
“The manager’s got to pick them up, and I’m sure he will do, and look at the positives.
“It’s a one-off occasion and there’s absolutely no reason why they can’t win. How many people actually thought seriously that Murray was going to beat Djokovic?
“You’ve got to ask yourself what can change with Murray and what can change with Hibs? One is self-belief.
“What’s gone is gone. They need to regroup and there’s no place for recriminations.
“Their focus now is they have 90 minutes – and they have to make every second count – to make their own history.
“They’ve not won the cup for 114 years? What a time to win it. They’ve got to be clear they can go out and win this thing and change history and be legends in their own club.”
Having conceded a last-minute winner to lose March’s League Cup final to Ross County and a 92nd-minute goal to succumb to defeat to Falkirk on Friday, Hibs have failed to shake off the feeling they are always vulnerable late on in games.
Not a new phenomenon, the tendency has led to some coining the phrase ‘Hibsed it’ for anyone snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
However, Lucas is convinced the Easter Road outfit can overcome the issue with the right mindset.
He added: “When it comes to the squeaky bum time, the role of the captain is pivotal, as well as the manager and the coaches, in trying to stay calm and playing the game as they have done and sticking to the tactics.
“The trouble is when players get to semi-finals and finals, they think they’ve got to do something different. No, you keep to the same way you’ve played, the way that’s brought you success over the piece.
“Don’t start World Cup passes when you’ve not done them before, don’t magnify the game to more than it is.
“It’s a 90-minute game of football, first and foremost. Yes, there are the surroundings and the prize, but at the end of the day it’s a game of football. Do the simple things and do them well.”