NEIL Lennon and his exciting Hibernian side sit second in the Premiership with a goals tally of 19 which wso happens to be superior to the rest.
With the exception of a defeat at Livingston, they have passed just about every test so far. Even the home defeat by Aberdeen in the Betfred Cup, on penalty kicks, had the manager purring about his team’s performance which really ought to have resulted in a comfortable win.
The life as a supporter of Leith’s finest is an emotional rollercoaster with more dips than highs, albeit recent years have been rather enjoyable. And right now, with Easter Road more or less full for home games, this is a pretty good time to be a Hibee.
However, as they prepare face their two biggest tests of the season so far, Celtic Park tomorrow and then a derby with Hearts at Tynecastle on Halloween, it is impossible not to draw the conclusion that we will discover soon enough whether this Hibs are the real deal.
If they win at Celtic Park, and it’s a 50/50 game, they would go top should Hearts drop points at home to Aberdeen. Win both upcoming matches and they will sit top of the Premiership after ten matches.
It’s been a while since Edinburgh’s green and white found themselves in such lofty a position with a fair chunk of the season gone.
Lennon’s men play the best football in the country. Their attacking philosophy did leave them short at the back at the start of this season but that’s four games in a row without a goal being conceded. These are exciting times.
Micky Weir was the supporter good enough to become a dazzling winger for the team he still watches most weeks, home and away, such is his devotion to the Hibs. He played in good, average and bad teams during two spells at the club, and one season, 1994/95, finished third.
You need to go back to the 1974/75 campaign when that wonderful side, led by Pat Stanton, finished second to Rangers; they have not equalled that since then.
If we are still of the mind that Celtic will sort themselves out and go on to become champions – and Saturday at Parkhead will tell us a lot about both teams – then Hibs have as a good a chance as anyone of getting second place.
And according to one former player they will attempt this with a swagger.
“This is our best team for a long time and what I as a fan love more than anything is that we attack teams, we don’t sit back, and that is what the manager said we would do,” said Weir now a 52-year-old.
“I am not going to go down the road of saying where we can finish, although I am sure we’re in for a great season, but this team can go to Celtic Park then Tynecastle and win both games. Perhaps Hibs teams in the past would look at such games and not back themselves. This one believes they can win both. I wouldn’t put it past them.
“And this is the big difference. The players have belief. They are looking forward to these tests and I would say we will know a lot more about them after Celtic Park and Tynecastle. We’ve had one blip, Livingston, but I can’t see any supporter having too many complaints about them so far.”
Hibs last won away to Celtic in January 2009, a 2-1 victory sealed by a Danny Galbraith goal in the last minute. Such results have not been easy to come by in the east end of Glasgow and yet Weir believes this is time for this group to take a step forward.
“It was the same as in my day as it is now, you get judged by what happens in Glasgow and, of course, against Hearts, said Weir who then added: “I didn’t do too badly you know. I had some good days at Celtic and Rangers.
“I think Lennon said himself that the one box needing ticked was to go to Celtic and win. They got a draw last season and beat them at Easter Road, that’s great, but what a statement it would be if they could beat the champions at their place.
“For me, the biggest strength the team has is it will not be defensive. That’s only going to end one way at Celtic. I’ve been there myself. We have got so much attacking players that it wouldn’t make sense for Lennon to go there and ask them to sit tight.”
Weir isn’t quite ready to talk about a title race Celtic’s financial strength will prove too much” but he can’t recall the last time he enjoyed being a Hibs fan as much as he does now.
“I feared for us a bit when John McGinn and Dylan McGeoch left but the manager and coaches have been brilliant at recruiting,” he said. “Martin Boyle has been terrific and Stevie Mallan has a sweet right foot.
“And I really like Mark Milligan. With so many attack-minded players we need someone to read the game and make sure nothing gets past him.
“We have become a really good football team.” That they have.
Source : HeraldScotland