"There is a fear element"; Lee Johnson hypes up Celtic ahead of Easter Road match
Hibernian manager Lee Johnson reckons Celtic are an ‘F1 car’ compared to his ‘kit car’ which is still being pieced together, speaking ahead of the two clubs meeting tomorrow night.
The Bhoys travel to Easter Road on Wednesday looking to maintain a nine-point lead at the top of the Scottish Premiership.
The last meeting between the two sides is one Johnson hasn’t forgotten easily, with James Forrest, Giorgos Giakoumakis and Daizen Maeda powering the Bhoys to a 6-1 win in Glasgow.
He reckons Hibs will be better off in the end for that experience but that facing the Celtic is an entirely different level to their week-to-week tasks.
As quoted by The Daily Record, he said: “Celtic are very, very strong at this time. One of the best sides I have seen and I have faced Man United and Man City as a coach. You can also lose quality in those moments because you are concentrating so hard. It is almost like driving a Punto and you are pretty comfortable and almost on autopilot, but then you are shoved into a Formula One car, in a Formula One race and, whoosh. It is a different level.
“So that purposeful practice should allow you to improve as a player and as a team when you encounter more and more games like that. We’re a kit car at the moment! Still being pieced together. But we have a good engine.”
In other comments provided by The National, Johnson admitted concern about being embarrassed will drive motivation, stating: “Celtic are a top side, I enjoy watching them, in terms of the dynamism and the movement. But, when you are coaching, the challenge is to find a way to take points off them.
“How you do that? How you set them up? How you give the boys confidence? You are playing at home, so the fans have to be part of the performance and all these things have to be at elite level if you are to beat or get a result against a side like that.
“The mind also focuses because there is a fear element that makes you track runners that little bit more. It’s on Sky and you don’t want to be embarrassed, so there are all these various factors that go into the arousal levels of a game and what becomes important.”
There’s probably few mind games from the Hibs boss here in talking so glowingly about Celtic. He’ll be trying to set the challenge to his players that this is a cup final for them up against a team of quality.
Celtic know from the 0-0 result at Easter Road last season that nothing can be taken for granted, despite the big win against Hibs earlier in the season.
All Postecoglou’s side can do is focus on their own game and set their own performance levels in the game, rather than think too much about the stance of our opponents. That should lead to a victory on a good night.
In other news, Ange Postecoglou shuts down Celtic derby talk ahead of Hibs.