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Murdo MacLeod on Hibs: Fine football, ‘gifted’ Cummings & Prem aims

| 29.03.2017

I was part of the Hibernian side who ended a 19-year wait for a major trophy when we won the League Cup Final against Dunfermline Athletic in 1992. And success like that gives a club a huge lift.

You can see that at Easter Road this season. After last year’s Scottish Cup triumph, and with the addition of Neil Lennon as boss, fans are turning out in their numbers and seeing flair football and a side heading for promotion back to the Ladbrokes Premiership.

And as far as I’m concerned, there’s every reason to believe Hibs can become a force in the top-flight once again…

It’s not just results – they’re doing it with style

Hibs’ attacking football has been a joy to watch. They’ve been consistently excellent to watch throughout the season, and Neil Lennon deserves a big pat on the back for that.

That’s reflected in the crowds at Easter Road. Fans are turning out in huge numbers again to watch them, because the quality of football right now is just great.

I also think that after winning the Scottish Cup last year after a 114-year wait, and getting the monkey off their back, there’s a newfound positivity around the place. That’s translated on the pitch, because the side have a real swagger about them.

But the defence also deserve real credit. They’ve conceded the fewest goals in the Ladbrokes Championship by some distance, and now that they’re close to wrapping the title up, I think we can all look forward to seeing them in the top-flight. They’ll be a great addition again.

It’s time for the young guns

With a 10-point gap at the top of the table, there’s every chance Hibs will have promotion confirmed with a few games to spare. And we all know what Neil’s like – he loves to give an opportunity to young players.

I think once the title’s secured, or all-but-secure, he’ll look to give games to some of the younger guys on the cusp of the first-term – the likes of Alex Harris, Scott Martin and Callum Crane, and maybe one or two others.

If these young guys are to be the future of Hibs, he needs to see how they adapt to playing in front of 16,000 fans at Easter Road. And once the job’s done in terms of winning the title, it allows those young guys to just go out there and enjoy their football – and hopefully they’ll impress the manager.

Cummings equipped for Premiership stardom

There are always areas where young players can improve, but there aren’t too many more naturally gifted than Jason Cummings.

He reminds me a lot of Leigh Griffiths. A born finisher, one who can score both instinctive tap-ins and impressive long-range efforts. He’s also a player with a bit of arrogance about him – you’ve seen that when he’s chipped opposition keepers. And that’s a quality which entertains the fans.

But now the test will be replicating that in the top flight. Doing the business against the likes of Celtic, Aberdeen, Rangers and Heart of Midlothian – on a regular basis.

I think he’s got the attributes and the attitude to flourish and to entertain at the top level. But it’s up to Jason to go out there and prove his quality at the top level.

Top-six finish and outdoing Hearts? Why not!

First off, I think we’ll see Hibs finish in the top six of the Ladbrokes Premiership next season. They’ve got a strong enough squad to do so already, in my view, and I think Neil will make a couple of additions this summer.

I think the fans would be willing to give them a year back in the top-flight to find their feet, but I personally believe the club will adapt very quickly to the challenge. They’ve got the manager, the players, the resources, and the fanbase to thrive.

As for Hearts, they’re beginning to slip down the table right now. If they continue to be inconsistent next season, there’s no reason Hibs can’t finish above them.

Top-six will be the first aim, I think. Then from there, I think finishing above Hearts would be a good benchmark. Providing they’re in and amongst the top four or five again next season…

The fact Neil has good contacts at clubs like Celtic means we could also see a few talented guys come in on loan to help bolster the squad, as Kris Commons and Efe Ambrose did this season. And the higher up the leagues you’re playing, it gets easier to bring in players of that kind of quality.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing



Murdo MacLeod

Murdo MacLeod enjoyed a glittering football career, most notably at Hibernian, Celtic and Borussia Dortmund as well as appearing for Scotland in the 1990 World Cup.
Now a respected pundit, Murdo will be offering his exclusive opinions to Ladbrokes News.