Hibs boss Lee Johnson tells players to take cues from Celtic stars after Paradise thrashing

By Dave Flanigan

October 16, 2022

Hibs boss Lee Johnson has told his beleaguered players to take tips from Celtic’s stars after the Leith side were handed a five-goal thumping at Celtic Park yesterday.

His side were 3-0 down within 25 minutes, as two lethal crosses from Celtic’s left flank found James Forrest and Giorgos Giakoumakis to provide first-time finishes for 2-0, before a David Marshall howler gifted Forrest a second, and Celtic a third before the half-hour mark.

Johnson made four changes at half-time to try and stem the flow of Celtic’s attacks, and despite Hibs reducing the deficit to two with a well-taken Elie Youan finish inside Joe Hart’s near-post before the hour, Celtic found another gear to add a further three goals to complete a damaging ninety minutes for the Hibs manager.

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Speaking in his post-match press conference at Celtic Park, he said: “The lessons you can take from it are big, the detail and the standard.

“I look at the Japanese players and I think ‘Wow you are so dynamic, you’re squat, you’re powerful – athletic’.

“If I was a player, I’d be knocking on the door, trying to get a shirt, and I’d be saying: ‘Right, tell me what you do every day, how do you wake up, what do you eat for breakfast? Do you stretch for three hours? How many weights do you do?’ That’s the standard the boys want to and need to be at.”

Johnson had recent history weighing on his mind, Hibs haven’t won in Paradise since 2010, but the former Sunderland manager believes that the results in that time affect his players psychologically too.

“We haven’t won here in twelve years and as a collective we wanted to come and be that first team that makes a little bit of recent history. We didn’t get at people in and around the edge of the box, and I think that timid play ended up almost like a domino effect through the team.

“If you look at the first two goals just as an example, we don’t get up to the ball. What is the fear factor of going to press? These are defenders that have a lot of experience in this league, and as a team, I know we can apply pressure, we’re a fit team.

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“But there’s a fear factor there and that’s what we have to change at this football club. It’s the hardest thing to change but it’s something that’s on a psychological level and that’s really difficult for me to take, it eats me up inside.

“Second half, we’ve had a go. We’ve still been outclassed but we’ve had a go, we’ve tried to get up to the ball, we’ve tried to apply pressure, we’ve scored a good goal, but if you look at the standard of goals we’ve conceded you’d do well to put a series of clips together from a Sunday park league.”

For Celtic, yesterday was some catharsis after recent issues in front of goal, and a chance to return to the free-scoring ways of the early weeks of the season.

It was also the second successive game that Ange Postecoglou had the luxury of resting both of his full-backs and star striker, whilst other key men Callum McGregor and Jota sat out through injury, adding to a fine day’s work for the Scottish champions.

They’ll be keen to carry that form into Wednesday’s Premier Sports Cup tie at Fir Park, before taking on Hearts at Tynecastle on Saturday, which will see the first televised instance of VAR used in the Scottish Premiership.

In other news: “Some of the comments were ridiculous”; Ange Postecoglou hits back at critics after big Celtic win