Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom has said that his side have “turned a corner” after reaching the Betfred Cup semi-final.
Hibs get set to welcome Celtic to Easter Road in what’s looking like a seriously meaty clash. The Hoops will go in as favourites given Hibs have just one league win in six games.
Pressure has been mounting on Heckingbottom after his woeful start to the season. It increased tenfold when they lost at home to Hearts in the Edinburgh Derby on Sunday too.
But the Hibees boss believes that’s in the past. Speaking to the BBC post-match yesterday, he believes his side have turned a corner ahead of Celtic’s visit.
“They’ve turned a corner. We went the long way round, but I think it was deserved. I’m delighted we can send the fans home happy because they’re in it with us. It’s what they deserve as well.
“I just hope it lets the players understand what we’re talking about when we’re talking about hard work, not giving anything away, being resilient and tough, that they can see that and get rewards from that.
“I’m looking forward to [the semi-final] but that’s further down the line. We’ve got two huge game against teams who finished above us last year so we know it’s going to be a tough test.”
Not as good a performance as Heckingbottom is making out
Heckingbottom is never going to come out and criticise his men after yesterday’s Kilmarnock win. However, the penalty-shootout success came after 120 minutes of Hibs not doing very much.
They created minimal chances throughout the entire contest. Added to that, they were fortunate not to lose it by a couple of goals. Kilmarnock squandered several glorious chances throughout, including a back-post Stephen O’Donnell header that should’ve found its way in.
But fortunately for Hibs they saw it through, and now they’ll have their eyes on continuing to build some good form against Celtic on Sunday.
The positive for us is that Hibs’ performance level didn’t drastically improve against Killie. They were still the inferior side, and managed six less shots than Angelo Alessio’s men overall.
They tend to raise their game against the Hoops, however. Heckingbottom also managed a 0-0 draw with Celtic in his only meeting with them at Easter Road last season.
But, whether he wants to believe it or not, it’s going to take a much better performance than what Hibs produced last night to replicate or better that result.