Sport Hibs social-media wailing, Jack Ross critics: This was such an important win for many within Easter Road
Hibs: The importance of Ross County clash after Rangers win as they hunt down rivals Hearts
All football fans possess an underlying sense of fatalism and foreboding at all times. That something bad is going to occur. That feeling only grows off the back of a positive experience. © Hibs will be looking to follow up the cup win over Rangers with success against Ross County in the l... Coming back from Hampden Park after easing past Rangers in the Premier Sports Cup semi-final, Hibs fans will have been on cloud nine. They had just witnessed their side put in a confident and controlled performance in a comprehensive 3-1 win which even the most positive of Hibees probably didn't see coming.
Social media is never truly an accurate gauge of how a whole fanbase is feeling, but there was a particular incident on Twitter last week which caught the eye.
Hibs club captain Paul Hanlon was handed a new contract, keeping him at the club until the summer of 2024. The 31-year-old has won the Scottish Cup with Hibs, played more than 400 matches, scored crucial goals in derbies and been capped by his country while at Easter Road. Yet the news that he was prolonging his stay at the club was greeted with gnashing of teeth and, in some instances, wailing.
What channel is the Hibs game on? Ross County match info, kick-off time, TV and stream details
After defeating Rangers in Sunday’s Premier Sports Cup semi-final, Hibs return to action this evening when they play their rearranged match against Ross County in Dingwall. © Ross County take on Hibs at the Global Energy Stadium in Dingwall this evening. (Photo by Roddy Scot... The cinch Premiership fixture was initially due to be played on Saturday, October 30 but was postponed just a few hours before kick-off after it emerged that Hibs had suffered a Covid outbreak among their squad.
Hanlon is a defender most clubs in Scotland would like to have in their ranks. Perhaps familiarity has blinded some Hibs fans of his talents: a solid, dependable left-sided centre-half who can play in a three or a four, comfortable with the ball at his feet and a role-model for his peers.
Or perhaps the angst among Hibbies was bigger than just a player signing a new deal. After all, they hadn’t watched their team play for almost a month, and before that the four matches they had attended had ended in defeats by Celtic, Aberdeen, Dundee United and Rangers. A serious outbreak of Covid-19 shut down Hibs’ training base and forced the postponement of cinch Premiership matches away at Ross County and Livingston. After a good start to the season, there was a feeling it might all be unravelling for Jack Ross and his players, the situation no doubt not helped by Hearts’ strong start to the campaign.
Jamie Murphy on why Hibs 'owed' Jack Ross a win, scoring the winner at St Johnstone, and his frustrating fitness battle
As Jamie Murphy celebrated his winner in front of the travelling Hibs fans, it was more than elation at scoring the goal to end the Easter Road side's run of league defeats.Murphy has played 13 times this season, scoring twice and setting up two more for his colleagues, but he has only played the full 90 minutes once – in the 3-0 home defeat by Dundee United. Earlier this season he voiced his hopes that after an injury-disrupted first season at Hibs he would be able to put together a run of games this term.
Football can change so quickly, though. Hibs came out of cold storage on Sunday and scorched Rangers to reach the Premier Sports Cup final. Three first-half goals from the talismanic Martin Boyle floored their groggy opponents at Hampden. A rare defensive mishap allowed Rangers an opportunity to come back off the canvas but, at 3-1, Hibs stood firm, absorbing some admittedly meek Rangers blows and booking a date with Celtic next month.
If ever a club needed this sort of pick-me-up, it was Hibs. While far from being a crisis point, after finishing third in the league last season, reaching the Scottish Cup final and League Cup semi-finals, the expectation was to reinforce their position as Scotland’s third-best club. Four losses on the spin had put some pressure on manager Ross, who is never far away from criticism from an element of the support who find it hard to forgive last season’s two Hampden losses to St Johnstone, plus the delayed 2019/20 Scottish Cup last-four defeat by Hearts.
Jack Ross calls on SPFL to ease Hibs' fixture schedule ahead of Premier Sports Cup Final
Hibs manager Jack Ross has called on the SPFL to ease his team’s fixture list next month and ensure the Premier Sports Cup Final is not diminished as a showpiece occasion for the governing body. © Hibernian manager Jack Ross celebrates at full-time after his team defeated Rangers 3-1 in the Premi... As Ross celebrated Hibs’ 3-1 semi-final victory over Rangers at Hampden, he also turned his attention to the crammed schedule they face after the covid outbreak among his squad saw their last two Premiership games postponed.
It was therefore timely that Hibs issued a reminder that they have not turned into a bad team overnight. Their performance against Rangers was exceptional. Boyle grabbed the headline for hat-trick but Kevin Nisbet’s intelligent link-up play helped, full-backs Josh Doig and Chris Cadden bombed forward to support while never being found wanting defensively, while youngster Josh Campbell – handed his first start – did not look out of place alongside his more cultured midfield peers of Joe Newell and Jake Doyle-Hayes, the latter rarely wasting the ball.
And at the back, there was Hanlon marshalling the team and defending magnificently, save for a tackle on 14 seconds on Joe Aribo that resulted in him being booked. Hanlon is not the sort of player who will be on social media poring over all the comments fired his way, but his performance shut up his critics. Alongside him, Paul McGinn was superb but Ryan Porteous, the 22-year-old who has suffered at the hands of Alfredo Morelos and Rangers beforehand, must be singled out. His aggressive, whole-hearted style unfairly wins him as many friends and enemies, but Porteous kept Morelos very quiet and he was on the end of most crosses. Ross is a big supporter of his young centre-half and it won’t be long before he gets his first Scotland cap, having been involved in a couple of Steve Clarke’s squads.
Aidan Smith: Hibs can beat Rangers in semis with silly haircuts and scruffy trundlers - no pressure, Jack
Someone somewhere, in the build-up to today’s semi-final, has almost certainly called Jack Ross a big-game hunter. They may even have transposed his head onto the body of an actual hunter, so that the always nattily-dressed football manager is gunning for Rangers in a camouflage safari jacket and matching shorts with a fierce crease, topped off with a pith helmet. © Kevin Thomson, Scott Brown, Derek Riordan and Garry O'Connor celebrate yet another Hibs League Cup s... If so, I hope Ross can allow himself a chuckle over his muesli, before getting down to the - very - serious business of this tie. For big-game hunter is what he is.
Ross must be hailed for this result. His big-game record was put under the microscope ahead of Sunday. Two losses at Wembley with Sunderland, three Hampden defeats against one win is admittedly not the best of records, but one can argue – rightly – that it is better to have been in those positions rather than exiting knock-out competitions early on. The Hibs manager got his tactics spot-on. The 3-5-2 formation allowed his midfield to dominate Rangers and pushing Boyle right up front exposed the lack of pace on the turn in the Rangers defence. Playing Campbell was a gamble on paper, but the youngster’s energy in harassing Rangers’ ball-players paid off, and when 3-1 up Ross did not panic, resisting the temptation to go with one up front and subsequently maintaining Hibs’ threat.
The way the Hibs players and staff celebrated in front of their giddy supporters showed just how much this victory means to the club. There are new faces in at Easter Road. Sporting director Graeme Mathie was the last of the old guard to make way. New chief executive Ben Kensell has made some big calls already, with the appointment of Steve Kean as academy director – seen by controversial by some – and a huge restructure behind the scenes. Time will tell on whether those moves will be deemed successful, but it is a feather in the cap of this regime, under owner Ron Gordon, to reach a cup final.
Jack Ross questions 'peculiar governance' of SPFL after Hibs and Celtic handed ninth December fixture
Hibs manager Jack Ross has questioned the “peculiar governance” of the Scottish Professional Football League after his side were handed an extra game in December despite already flagging concerns over a fixture pile-up. © Hibs head coach Jack Ross on the touchline during the Premier Sports Cup semi-final win over Rangers... Ross had mentioned after Sunday's Premier Sports Cup semi-final win over Rangers that help from the SPFL for both Hibs and Celtic would be "nice" given their fixture load. Both teams have rearranged cinch Premiership fixtures in the midweek before the final at Hampden on December 19.
It would be a stretch too far to say this result was a once-in-a-generation Hampden victory for Hibs given they have vanquished Rangers at the national stadium three times in the past 17 years in cup competition, but the jubilation at full time emphasised how important a win this was for the club and its fanbase, offering the platform for an exciting end to 2021 as they embark on a hectic period of 12 matches in 41 days.
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Josh Doig commits future to Hibs after signing new long-term deal .
Hibs have succeeded in tying down another of their prized assets on a long-term deal, announcing that Josh Doig has agreed a contract extension that will run until the end of the 2025/2026 season.Impressed with his maturity as well as his performances, the club have moved quickly to tie him up on a longer-term deal.