HIBERNIAN V MOTHERWELL at Easter Road, some pundits are claiming that Hibs’ boss, Pat Fenlon, should already have been given his P45 after the calamitous 9-0 aggregate defeat by Malmo in the Europa League Qualifier. The Swedes were thrashed 4-0 by Swansea on Thursday, which perhaps shows that Malmo are no great outfit themselves.
His Motherwell counterpart, Stuart McCall, also watched his own team lose 2-0 at home against Russians, Kuban Krasnodar, more or less ending their European aspirations for this season also. McCall, though, is not under the same pressure as Fenlon. He has done remarkably well with The Steelmen over the last two seasons and his position is relatively secure – as secure as any job can be in the fickle world of football managers.
I find this game the most difficult to call of all the PRP fixtures this weekend. Both squads are significantly weaker than they were last season. Hibs have added Republic of Ireland cap, James Collins, in the hope that he can score some of the goals that Leigh Griffiths contributed last season. Defender Michael Nelson could also make his debut for the Edinburgh side. Hibs have a host of their squad either injured or suspended. Motherwell have no injury worries after Thursday’s defeat and will be able to choose from the same squad. Who to choose??
Prediction: I don’t like forecasting draws therefore I am taking Motherwell for an away win.
At Perth, where ST.JOHNSTONE v HEARTS, I have much less difficulty in stating what I think the outcome of this match will be. The Saints, under new coach Tommy Wright, have made a fantastic start to the season, via their Europa League exploits. A 2-1 aggregate victory over Champions League regulars, Rosenborg, must go down as one of the greatest results in their European history.
They built on this with a 1-0 away victory at Minsk on Thursday, giving them a great chance to reach the play offs to get a place in the group stage. Frazer Wright and Dylan Easton are suspended for this match and Chris Millar is 50/50 with a groin strain. Striker Stevie May is itching to start in this match and may get his chance.
Regardless of the Saints starting eleven, contrast that with the fact that eighteen year old Callum Paterson is likely to be leading the Hearts attack. Paterson, who has been getting specialised coaching from former Jambo John Robertson (who is working for free), is being asked to do a lot for one so young. Hearts are in complete disarray on and off the field with the threat of liquidation still a stark reality. I can see only one outcome in this match.
Prediction: St.Johnstone to win and keep Hearts on minus fifteen points!