Shaun Maloney will be Hibs hero or sinner in next three games with the season in no man’s land – Tam McManus

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The line between success and failure in football can become as thin as Kojak’s hairline.

Unfortunately for Hibs their entire season currently sits in no man’s land. There’s three games left where everything’s on the table – top six, a Scottish Cup Final appearance and all Sunshine on Leith.

Then there’s the other side of the coin – bottom six, knocked out of a semi-final by their biggest rival and a dark, bleak ending to this season.

Huge, huge games lie ahead with so much at stake. It will either make Shaun Maloney a hero or a sinner who will come under some severe pressure.

Here’s a warning for my old club. Losing at the weekend at Aberdeen has made it increasingly likely they’ll have to win at Tynecastle to make sure they finish in the top half. I can just imagine the Jambos lapping that up.

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Failure will be a nightmare scenario that will linger with the club, players and fans.

I’m not trying to be a prophet of doom as it could all end on a high at Hampden in May with a trophy and a top-half finish is still very much achievable. It’s just that the lack of consistency in performances have made it feel like success or failure on both fronts are as predictable as a toss of the coin.

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I’ve been in the bottom six with Hibs under Bobby Williamson and it was a terrible experience.

The atmosphere was toxic and I remember one of the few laughs we managed at that time – but it wasn’t really all that funny.

We lost 4-1 to Livingston on the last day of the season and our French full-back Yannick Zambernardi had an absolute nightmare.

It wasn’t his first to be fair, Yanis had more than his fair share of shockers but in this game he surpassed himself. After the game our assistant manager Gerry McCabe came into the dressing room and had the blind fury. I thought he was going to throttle poor Yannick but his words from him did far more damage than any physical harm.

Gerry shouted: “The sooner you realize that good French players don’t play in Scottish fitba’ the better.” It was a horrible conclusion to a campaign that was an unmitigated failure and Yannick landed a free transfer.

There are signs that it could be another bottom-six season. Losing at Pittodrie on Saturday was such a huge disappointment after going from an excellent win at Motherwell to being so poor against the Dons.

The inconsistency that has plagued this campaign has again struck a Hibs side who are capable of so much better. It’s why things have now reached such a critical stage with absolutely no margin for error.

One league win out of the last 11 games isn’t anywhere near good enough and Maloney will know that.




Even the two spot-kick awards that went against his side were correct calls.

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Ryan Porteous made a rash challenge and despite the protests, it was a penalty as he took out Ross McCrorie.

It wasn’t even in the debatable category as far as I’m concerned.

Big Porto has come in for a bit of stick in recent weeks but on this occasion I’ll give him a free pass as it was a last-ditch attempt to prevent a goal and a genuine attempt to win the ball.

His performances have matured, he has kept control of his emotions better and is far more controlled in challenges.

The problem now is that he’s going to be missing for the next two Premiership games before the split and that’s a bit of a disaster.

There was also little doubt about the penalty for a handball offense by Rocky Bushiri.

It may have been bad luck but the ball struck his hand so no complaints on that score either.

I’m a pint half-full guy by nature so I believe this campaign still contains a couple of big highs for Hibs.

There’s so much to strive for and it’s time for the big players to step forward and take a lead.

It can all still go according to plan but it’s the small margins that worry me – can they deliver when it really matters?

If they can’t then in the space of three games their season will be as good as over.



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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