F**k this season. At times it promised so much and now it looks like it’s going to deliver nothing. A neat encapsulation of my 25 years spent watching Hibernian. The prospect of a forthcoming humbling at Hampden for approximately the 12th time this decade is not so appealing.
Mark Oxley – 6
Re-signed over the summer after we’d released Tomas Cerny (why oh why oh why), Oxley had a grand start to the season. He looked more confident, he looked assured and he was even beginning to dominate the penalty box. However, Hibs were still conceding goals at an alarming ratio to attacks sustained as so it proved in the second half of the season where Oxley looked shakier than a Taylor Swift video. One suspects that if a club in England sniffs about neither he nor Hibs will be chasing them away.
Conrad Logan – 7
Looking like an early draft of a character from The Incredibles, Logan sealed his cult hero status in his debut, helping Hibs defeat Dundee United and ensuring the inevitable 3-0 defeat to Rangers this Saturday. Logan made an impact at Hampden, both literally and metaphorically. Soon the clamour for his return between the sticks gained momentum with the view amongst part of our support that Conrad was the hybrid of Lev Yashin and Gigi Buffon rolled up into one roly poly keeper. The sheen soon came off that theory as Bob f’n McHugh rolled a ball under him in the first leg of the playoff semi final.
Liam Fontaine – 7
Last season I said: “the classiest centre half I’ve seen at Hibs for a number of years, Fontaine should be playing at a much higher level than the Championship. Fontaine looks effortless on the ball, is happy to bring the play out of defence and is a good set play option.” Sadly, this season has seen a regression in Fontaine’s play with injuries perhaps playing a contributory factor. I love his mentality and how effortless he can sometimes make defending look. Scored the magnificent equaliser in the cup final only to see his error cost us extra time in stoppage time. Horribly frustrating.
David Gray – 8
Made club captain in the summer, Gray has chalked up 45 appearances. Fewer goals this time around, he’s rarely looked suspect or out of place. Stubbs’ refusal to acknowledge width as an option perhaps cost Gray the opportunity to bomb on more often this term, but he’s exactly the sort of player Hibs need to retain for next season’s title tilt.
Niklas Gunnarson – 6
Hard to make a proper assessment of Gunnarson on his six month loan from Valerenga but there’s no doubt that his introduction swung the pendulum in Hibs’ favour at Tynecastle in the Scottish Cup earlier this season. Seems to be a highly capable player with fine technique. Likely to be largely forgotten apart from that zinger against Rangers.
Paul Hanlon – 8.5
Arguably Hibs’ best player this term. He’s toughed up and regularly bosses games at the back. It’s no coincidence that our drop in form coincided with Hanlon being sidelined. Looks like he’s in with the bricks at Easter Road, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see an English Championship club arrive with a bid.
Darren McGregor – 8
Why Rangers thought Danny Wilson was an upgrade on Darren McGregor I’ll never know. Still prone to the occasional lapse in concentration, McGregor has largely been superb in a Hibs shirt this season. He’s strolled through a number of games, making defending look effortless. The priority would be for him and Hanlon to develop a concreted centre-half partnership that can provide the foundations for Hibs’ promotion push next season.
Lewis Stevenson – 7
53 appearances so far this season from Lewis Stevenson and for the large part he’s been good. Not excellent, but good, solid, dependable. And maybe that’s my problem with Lewis Stevenson. There doesn’t appear to be any progression in his play. Maybe I’m being harsh, but his crossing still leaves a lot to be desired, which is problematic for a team that plays as narrow as Hibs have done this season.
Marvin Bartley – 7.5
Marv took a while to get going, but when he did he was often terrific. Tenacious and organised, no one would mistake Bartley for a world beater but he understood his limits and played accordingly. Loses a lot of his game as soon as he picks up a yellow card, mind.
Dan Carmichael – 5
Injured for the most part, so it’s hard to give an assessment in his first season at Easter Road. It would have been nice to see Hibs play with a bit of width. Maybe next year?
Fraser Fyvie – 6.5
A confusing one is Fraser Fyvie. Capable of looking unplayable, Fyvie can in equal measure be unbelievably frustrating when he can’t complete a five yard pass. 30 starts and not a single goal points to a wider issue with Hibs this season.
Liam Henderson – 8
Playing his 243rd consecutive month of football, Henderson is a joy to watch (after you do a double take on the shape of his head). Great with the ball at his feet, if Henderson can bulk up he could be a real asset for Celtic in years to come. If Hibs are to win the Scottish Cup, it could be Henderson that proves pivotal to any Hibs attacks.
Dylan McGeouch – 8
A fully fit Dylan McGeouch would have made a crucial difference to Hibs’ season. A truly effortless player, he makes Hibs tick. Playing like a quarterback, McGeouch sits behind the attacking players in green and sets the tempo. So far, the only limitation for the midfielder will be injuries. If he can avoid them and add goals to his game (none this term despite 23 starts) then he should be playing at a much higher level.
John McGinn – 8
“We’ve got McGinn / Super John McGinn” so the song goes and for the most part McGinn has been excellent. His strange gait can sometimes look awkward but his talent is there for all to see, hence his Scotland debut earlier in the year. The only drawback this season has been Stubbs’s refusal to rest McGinn which ultimately has been detrimental on his form, especially in the final three months of the season where he’s looked a little sluggish. Hibs will be doing well to hold onto McGinn over the summer.
Kevin Thomson – 5
Third time’s a charm huh? Didn’t actually shine in his five starts, I suspect Thomson will be a full-time coach by August.
Jason Cummings – 7
It’s bizarre to have a striker who scores 25+ in two successive seasons and yet you still have doubts over. Cummings is likeable, but wayward. Too often this season he’s been anonymous in games and doesn’t have the ability to play himself into games in say the way that say, a Derek Riordan might have. This season has probably exposed the ceiling in his game and with English Championship clubs sniffing around, I would expect the board to accept bids over the summer.
Martin Boyle – 6
I like Boyle, but he wasn’t given enough of a chance this season. One of the few players capable of genuine pace, it was a mystery to see him languishing on the bench, especially in games where Hibs needed a goal or to stretch a game.
Chris Dagnall – 4
A diet version of James Keatings. Make of that what you will.
Islam Feruz – 2 (for football), 10 for driving whilst banned
Good idea on paper, terrible in its execution. Six substitute appearances and no goals. Islam Feruz is becoming another one of Scotland’s great wasted talents that never fulfil their potential.
James Keatings – 7
I’m conflicted on James Keatings because I don’t actually think he’s very good. And yet, he scores goals. Often critically important ones. But I’m not entirely sure what role he fulfils. His movement has minimal impact on defenders and often his play (unless it’s instinctive) isn’t good enough.
Farid El Alagui – 4
Physio’s favourite Farid just simply hasn’t been fit enough in his two seasons at Hibs. There’s clearly a player in there, but if he spends his time in bandages then he’s not much use at all.
Dominique Malonga – 10 (in my heart), 7.5 (in reality)
I thought I was too old for having favourite players and then Dominique Malonga comes along. Brilliant, gifted, maddening, the languid King Dom has been responsible for some fantastically great moments in his brief Hibs career. Malonga offered Hibs something different in the final third and his absence, in my mind at least, cost Hibs a proper tilt at the league and the two cups too. I understand the decision for him to go was entirely mutual, but Hibs have definitely got the rawer deal.
Anthony Stokes – 7
Mind when Hibs signed Stokes in January and it was a dead cert we were about to chase Rangers to the wire? Good grief it’s not worked out that way. Stokes hasn’t been on the same type of form as his first spell at the club, but he’s still scored a number of important goals. He was clearly lacking match practice early on and he isn’t the effervescent striker he once was (the amount of times he pulled back to take another touch when previously he would have lashed it goal-wards has been remarkable). He’s not been helped by an inability to form a decent strike partnership. Him and Cummings looked like a married couple who have decided to split up but still share the house – zero chemistry and an inability to give a shit as to where the other one was. If he scores the winner on Saturday then all is forgiven.
THE DEPARTED AND THE UNKNOWN
Antonio Reguero, we hardly knew you…it doesn’t bode well for Otso Virtanen that Alan Stubbs would try the 21st century’s William Foulke than try him between the sticks…Adam Eckersley didn’t play a single minute after being signed in the summer transfer window and leaving in January, altogether an odd piece of business…Jordan Forster was injured, then ended up at Plymouth on loan and is now playing at Wembley. Could be useful for Escape from the Championship III next year…Scott Martin secured three un-noteworthy appearances this season…Scott Allan went from Scottish football’s most wanted talent to its biggest recluse in one season. There’s no doubt that the aggressive wooing had an impact on Hibs and explained their sluggish start to the season. If Stubbs is still at Hibs next season, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Allan back at Easter Road on loan…Danny Handling returned from injury to make the bench for the semi-final, next season will be make-or-break for the youngster…as long as Alan Stubbs is around, it doesn’t look like Sam Stanton has a future at Easter Road, sadly…same could be said of Alex Harris…Lewis Allan is highly thought of within the club and seemed to impress on loan spells at other clubs this term…Henri Anier’s beard was magnificent and actually the sort of striker Hibs required in the second half of the season. Appeared to be signed at the point where Stubbs was getting players in after pulling their names out of a tombola…
Alan Stubbs – 6
By Saturday night he could be a hero, but it’s looking like the former Evertonian’s time is up at Easter Road. Two successive playoff defeats don’t necessarily look too bad, but the second half of this season has been unacceptable, especially finishing below Falkirk in the league. There appears to be a regression in his tactics and player deployment since his rookie season, none more so evident that the playoff defeat to the aforementioned Bairns. Stubbs has done wonders for the club off-the-field, but next season is crucial for the club and if the board have any doubts about his ability to get Hibs up next season then his position isn’t tenable.
Written by Duncan McKay