Stream, Vent, Sleep, Repeat
19:57 - A screenshot appears saying Brora 1 v 0 Hearts
20:02 - Hearts will pish this in the end
These were messages appearing in a group chat on WhatsApp from a couple of my Hibs mates.
My only response came moments later with
"If you could see the body language of some of these players after the goal then you wouldn't be so sure".
I chose to stream the game last night in the hope that we would see some fringe players wanting to play their way into the first XI or towards new contracts. I will admit that the lack of game and prep time being afforded to our part time opponents had led to me feeling little concern over any potential giant killing cup exploits.
The first 10 minutes or so had followed the trend of many of our recent games with both Irving & GMS looking lively but the team failing in general to match their impetuous but when Jordan McRae was given what seemed to be the freedom of the village itself to draw first blood for the home side, I was praying to see the rolling up of sleeves and a look of determination on the players faces. What I instead witnessed was a lost group of souls playing in the same jerseys but as their own little islands, detached from what should have been a dawning realisation that they were on the cusp of creating unwanted history and reverting back to drowning in their shirts (an all too familiar look to last season).
As the game wore on and the impossible became the inevitable, our need for our team to fight, press and overwhelm the opposition at every turn looked less likely. The expectation was that the final 20 minutes would look like Brora taking on the role of Cillian Murphy in 28 days later struggling to outrun the frantic maroon zombie mob foaming at the mouth sensing blood. The fact that Brora spent the last 15 minutes quietly sitting in the Winchester waiting for it to all blow over whilst we plodded along in an aimless direction outside occasionally scratching the window without looking like breaking down the front door added insult to injury.
Apologies for wandering off into pop culture references and trying to find creative ways of describing our most recent abject failure, but I hope you can understand that writing this piece is an endurance test, similar to following the club during the past 4 years.
So what has led to a large number of fans wanting a cup winning ex player with a win ratio of 60% in competitive games over two spells which will most likely yield two promotions out the door?
It is important to stress that I have placed that stat and acknowledgement of his impact as a player as these will be used by most observers and pundits from the outside of the bubble looking in so always best to be prepared for journalists taking on the role of devils advocate but missing the point and historical background which led to that watershed moment last night.
There are two ways to explain the current groundswell of discontent and anger towards Robbie Neilson.
The first was captured in a wonderful media friendly soundbite by Pants Shanton on Twitter last night when he tweeted the following:
"Robbie shouldn’t go because this is a massive cup shock. He should go because it isn’t."
I have been quite a consistent advocate for continuity at the club as I believe that this is as a general rule of thumb the best way to produce long term relative success for a club outside of the old firm. My support for this can be seen even as recent as a blog on this very website on February 28th titled Great Expectations.
But In losing to a non-league side in a competitive match for the first time since Buffalo Bill was hunting Bison, my participation in the general malaise that has engulfed this club for much of the Ann Budge reign has had to come to an end. Yes there is a feeling of whiplash from making such an abrupt turn but it is an impossible task to back a manager who has arguably seen 3 of the worst results the club has seen in its 147 year history.
I want to stress that I am only critical of the football failings of the individuals involved in breeding the acceptance culture which has led to me for the 1st seriously contemplating cancelling my FOH pledge (more on this later). I am in no doubt that Robbie Neilson, Craig Levein along with players like Irving, Walker & Berra will be feeling low but any sentiment or affection towards them cannot trump the anger I now feel towards a board that have lowered their expectations of the club to suit either the personal relationships they hold with some of the individuals above, take a back seat to summer concerts and trip advisor reviews or vindicate the noises bouncing around their echo chamber that they seem to have been permanent occupants of since Neilson left back in November 2016.
Their expectations upon the ambitious but failed appointment of Ian Cathro was for the club to consistently push for 3rd or 4th spot. Fast forward to August 2019 (a real sliding doors period for the club in my opinion when Levein should have been let go) and the statement from Ann Budge now included playing ambitions which consisted of a consistent top 6 place and getting to the latter stages of the cup competitions.
Given that Ann Budge has now overseen 4 failed managerial appointments, it would not be unfair in my eyes to suggest that she is not a fit and proper candidate to continue in her role past this summer. Given the head in the sand approach to the calls for Levein to leave last season, coupled with possibly an arrogance that these ramblings are that of a fringe online element of the support along with radio silence from FOH means that the fans may need to take a drastic approach in making their feelings known which may result in short term pain but long term gain hence the earlier suggestion that FOH pledges are put on hold or cancelled.
I will sign off by admitting to my own contribution in all this. When I look at my decision to start this website and online presence, I probably failed to recognise that this was my subconscious probably looking for nostalgic comfort blankets to negate the turgid product which has been served during the past few seasons.
Apologies for the lack of direction and disjointed nature of this piece but this is probably just my way of paying tribute to the recent running of the club I love and will continue to love as ultimately the club come before any individual that comes and goes. Would be wise for the FOH to take note of this and wake up before their inaction is seen as them serving individuals and not the club as they should be.