Heckingbottom feeling the heat after Hibs blow Edinburgh derby lead
Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom says he is feeling the pressure after his team threw away a one-goal lead to lose to rivals Hearts in the Edinburgh derby on Sunday, but insists he is “100%” the man to things around at Easter Road.
Hibs slipped to second bottom in the Scottish Premiership after Aaron Hickey’s late goal secured a 2-1 win for Hearts, in a match neither side could afford to lose given their poor starts to the season.
The result leaves Heckingbottom’s side without a win since the opening day of the Premiership campaign, and there were protests outside of Easter Road after the game by angry Hibs fans.
By contrast, Hearts’ first win of the season lifts Craig Levein’s side off the foot of the Premiership table and eases the strain on the former Scotland boss. Levein, who himself was facing fan protests following defeat to Motherwell last weekend, said afterwards he “had empathy” for Heckingbottom, as the pressure switched to the Hibernian manager.
“I’m feeling it,” Heckingbottom said. “These are not games you want to lose, whether you are on a good run or a bad run.
“It’s tough to take. We want to put right the things that are going wrong, but I wouldn’t call it any different, this is just a sickener anyway. The manner of the defeat is a tough one as well.
“In terms of the game, I wish I was sat here talking about a fantastic goal [from Stevie Mallan] and some big performances that won us the game. Instead I’m sat here like a broken record saying for so long we were great, but we couldn’t kill the game off and we’ve come away with nothing.”
Heckingbottom said he will look to make alterations to his team ahead of their League Cup tie against Kilmarnock on Wednesday and the visit of Premiership leaders Celtic on Saturday.
“We have to change,” he said. “It’s my responsibility. I have to do that. And that’s why you can understand the fans, you can understand the frustrations, we go through it as well.
“It’s our job to make the changes whether it’s short term in shaking up [the team] or long term, but people have to step up. At the minute players have been getting opportunities, other players might now get their opportunity and it’s up to them to step up and hold down their place.”
When put to him whether he thought his own position is under threat, Heckingbottom said: “You’re asking the wrong person. The minute I start worrying about that or making decisions based on that I’m not doing my job. It’s not our decision. My job, along with my staff and my players, is to put things right on the pitch. We’ve just got to focus on our jobs.
But the Englishman was adamant that he is the man to turn Hibs’ form around.
“100%,” Heckingbottom said. “But again I can’t be thinking like that. It’s pointless. Straight away you are thinking about tomorrow and that’s the job 24/7.”
Levein, meanwhile, was feeling optimistic that Hearts can push on following their first win of the season.
“I did think that we played better than Hibs today and I feel our confidence will grow,” Levein said. “We’ve got a hugely difficult game against Aberdeen [in the League Cup] on Wednesday night and I’m sure today will help us.”
He added: “I was happy that we put on a performance that our supporters could be proud of. That will help us win back some of the supporters who have been a little bit disgruntled, but we need to do much more. This is just the start.”