Old Firm Could Be Split
Updated Sunday, 20th December 2009
If Hibs' luck holds out they could be making the Old Firm sweat next week.
Hibs manager John Hughes is enjoying seeing his players following his lead and believes the high morale pervading around the training ground has been key to the success they have enjoyed so far this season. Anthony Stokes scored twice to take his tally for the season to 10, just two behind the whole Aberdeen squad's total. Stokes' goals made it 12 unbeaten SPL games this season. The Easter Road side take on Rangers next week and could be right in there for the race for the top of the league if they manage to get the three points again. Hughes said: "I'm delighted to beat Aberdeen but we have to keep our feet firmly on the ground. What I am trying to do at Hibs is make sure everybody knows what I am looking for at the club. That is players with great character and the right type of work ethic. You want the players to come in and appreciate the job that they have got as it is the best job in the world. You need to be sure to get the spirit right among the players for them to take that onto the park. To be fair to the boys, they certainly gave me plenty of spirit against Aberdeen, that's for sure."
Hughes described Liam Miller's performance against the Dons as "absolutely fantastic", adding the Irishman is "everything you would want at the club". The Hibs boss was also pleased to see Derek Riordan able to make a contribution. The striker recovered from an illness that saw him sent home from training on Thursday to start against Aberdeen. Hughes said: "Derek has been suffering with sickness and diarrhoea so for him to give me a good 70 minutes was brilliant."
Aberdeen boss Mark McGhee is keen to see his flair players return from injury after losing then for a second successive week at Pittodrie. While the Dons enjoyed lengthy spells of pressure and possession against Hibs they once agains failed to turn their dominance into any real goalscoring chances. McGhee felt his side would have been more creative if Sone Aluko, Fraser Fyvie and Peter Pawlett had featured, instead of being sidelined by injury. He said: "We played well and I thought we were the better team for the majority of the game. However, we are finding it very difficult to put the ball in the back of the net at the moment. Early in the season we were turning these performances into victories but we had Peter Pawlett, Sone Aluko and Fraser Fyvie all fit and playing for us then. I would like to think that those three players could have made a big difference had they been playing today. If we are getting these sort of results with those guys in the team then we will start to worry."
The Dons have to turn things around in the next three crucial games if they are to keep their slim hopes of finishing in the top four alive. The Dons will hope to pick up all six points on offer against St Mirren and Falkirk before the year's end before travelling to Tannadice for a New Firm derby match with Dundee United on 2 January. McGhee said: "I have every confidence that we can win those matches if we get a couple of players back fit and we play like we did against Hibernian. However, knowing there is more to come from the team doesn't make losing to Hibs any easier."