PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM has gone from hero to zero in double-quick time.
The Hibs boss was acclaimed by the supporters when he arrived in February to take over from Neil Lennon who left the club in the strangest and as-yet unsatisfactorily explained circumstances.
The former Leeds United and Barnsley gaffer put his own stamp on the team and there were some encouraging performances, despite a Scottish Cup quarter-final exit from, irony of ironies, Lennon’s Celtic side at Easter Road in March.
But it looked as though Heckingbottom was steering the capital outfit in the right direction. The wheels, though, have come off in fairly spectacular fashion and, like the guy in the opposite dug-out this afternoon, he must realise he is under scrutiny from the club’s followers who have been less than enchanted with the club’s displays this time out.
Certainly, the Englishman isn’t doing himself any favours when he takes on the support over Scott Allan when he makes a substitution they don’t agree with. That’s fair enough, managers get paid to make unpopular decisions.
But do they need a “suck-it-up” attitude towards disapproving onlookers? Heckingbottom needs all the goodwill he can garner just now.
He is in the spotlight again during this afternoon’s derby against faltering Hearts at Easter Road and he has made his feelings known about what he expects from his players in this city duel.
Hibs haven’t won in the league since the opening day of the season, but the boss, looking forward to the visit of Craig Levein’s rock-bottom side, is making all the right noises about expecting to win and looking for a positive response from his players.
A club under new ownership in the shape of American millionaire Ron Gordon will be looking for a return on their investment.
Lennon led the club out of the Championship and consolidated a place in the top flight and was still shown the door.
Heckingbottom must start supplying answers to the crucial questions. OR ELSE.
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